By Max Lowson, Sports Radio 810
The Kansas City Royals kicked off their three-game series with the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night. Both Kansas City and Detroit entered the game struggling of late; Kansas City had lost eight of their last nine games, while Detroit was coming off a sweep in their home series against the White Sox. Although the Royals outhit Detroit, 14-12, they were unable to break their dry spell, suffering a 10-3 loss at the hands of the Tigers.
Kansas City faced trouble right from the get-go of last night’s matchup. After Royals starting pitcher Brad Keller gave up two base runners on the first two at-bats of the game, Kelvin Gutierrez made an error on a ground ball hit by Jonathan Schoop, giving Detroit a 1-0 lead. Detroit did not look back from there, as RBI singles from Miguel Cabrera and Niko Goodrum gave the Tigers a commanding 4-0 lead by the end of the first inning. Willi Castro hit a two-run homer in the fourth, giving Detroit a 6-0 lead, one that proved insurmountable for the Royals offense which could not come through on their scoring opportunities.
Detroit’s starting pitcher, Matthew Boyd, would exit in the bottom of the third inning with “left arm discomfort”. Kansas City failed to capitalize, however, as Salvador Perez and Jorge Soler made two consecutive outs against relief pitcher Joe Jimenez, stranding runners on first and third base. This was symbolic of the Royals offensive performance for the entirety of the game, as they stranded 11 base runners through the first six innings of the ball game.
Kansas City had no issues hitting against Detroit’s eight different relief pitchers from the third inning on, but they had little to no success coming through in the clutch. The Royals had just one hit with runners in scoring position (RISP), stranding 14 RISP over the course of the game.
When asked about the Royals inability to convert under pressure, manager Mike Matheny does not see preparation as the issue for his ball club, stating that “we can talk approach until we’re blue in the face. It’s about our execution”. Matheny also expressed that “there’s no quick fix” to get back on track, and insists that the Royals “just gotta keep fighting until we get it going in a good direction”.
The Royals did have a few bright spots at the plate against Detroit’s pitching staff. Whit Merrifield and Soler both recorded three hits on the night, each with two singles and a double. Outside of Hunter Dozier, everyone in the Royals lineup had at least one hit on the night. Hanser Alberto and Perez each had an RBI knock, in the fourth and fifth innings respectively.
Unlike the Royals, Detroit displayed timely hitting, taking advantage of a sluggish start from Keller who had difficulty locating his pitches. They had a balanced hitting attack, as all nine starters contributed with at least one hit and six different players converted in RBI situations. Cabrera led the team with three hits, and Niko Goodrum was particularly clutch with three RBIs on two hits.
Although Kansas City has dropped nine of its last ten games, Matheny and Merrifield are still optimistic that the Royals can snap out of the losing streak. Merrifield remains positive about the state of the team and believes the Royals are more than capable of being a quality, winning ball club. As it pertains to the current skid, he believes that “all we can do is ride it out.”
Matheny also remains confident in Kansas City’s personnel and ability to be a successful team. “I believe in our guys…over the long haul, we’re going to be much more productive than we are now. It’s just a bad run.”
Kansas City will take on Detroit tonight at 7:10 pm CDT for game two of the series. The Royals will look to get back on track and hand Tigers pitcher Casey Mize his fifth loss of the season. Mike Minor will seek his fourth victory of the year for Kansas City.