Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
The Detroit Tigers could not hold on to a late lead and missed out on a rare 4-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals, losing 5-2 to close the first half of the 2014 season.
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Despite the loss, the Tigers had a lot of success in Kansas City this weekend, much how the Royals ran roughshod over the Tigers last month in Detroit. It was interesting that the Royals, until the seventh inning in this series, were hitting the ball well at times, but they were finding gloves. This happened to the Tigers when they lost the first three games of that four-game series to fall 1.5 games behind them in the AL Central. Since then they have gone 17-6 to end the unofficial first half very strong. They now hold an 6.5-game lead in the division.
The Tigers opened the scoring in the top of the third inning off Royals’ starter Bruce Chen. Rajai Davis earned an infield single and advanced to third with a single off the bat of a suddenly red-hot Austin Jackson. Miguel Cabrera sent a ball deep to left field that found the glove of Raul Ibanez instead of the outfield seats. Nonetheless, it scored Davis with the game’s first run.
With Jackson still at first, J.D. Martinez seemed to hit a lazy fly ball into short left field. It fell in after shortstop Alcides Esobar eased off to allow Ibanez to handle it. Handle it he did not as Jackson, running with two outs, came all the way around to score the second run.
Kansas City wasn’t hitting the ball very hard in the seventh, but they did collect three base hits and an infield hit to score the first run. A fielder’s choice tied the score at 2 and chased Justin Verlander from the game with runners on second and third with no one out. Ian Krol came in and intentionally walked Salvador Perez to face Nori Aoki with the bases loaded. Aoki popped up, Al Alburquerque came on in relief to face former Tiger Omar Infante, who lined a two-run base hit to left. They tacked on another run off Phil Coke to bat around and take a 5-2 lead.
Verlander, who had been sharp early, was charged with four runs on six hits over 6 1/3 innings. His first-half ERA finished at 4.88.
With the exception of four players (Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Ian Kinsler, and Max Scherzer), the Detroit Tigers’ players and coaches will go their separate ways for four days. They’ll reunite on Friday in Detroit for another big series against an AL Central foe, the Cleveland Indians. It will be a four-game series with a day-night doubleheader on Saturday.