The Detroit Tigers came home this Mother’s Day weekend hoping to forget about the way their recent 10-game road trip ended in Chicago earlier in the week. They were greeted by the Kansas City Royals for the second time in a week. The series was one of the biggest early in the 2015 season, so much so that it got some praise nationally from those who cover baseball for a living.
Throw out history & consider only quality of 2 teams RIGHT NOW: I'd rank KC-DET as the best current rivalry. Nominees? PIT-STL great, too.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) May 11, 2015
Hard to argue that, all bias aside. The two division rivals have a similar roster makeup top to bottom and you can bet money it’ll be a tightly contested series every time they take the field. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Kansas City got the better of them this go around, leaving town with two weekend victories and taking a 1 1/2 game lead in the division. Detroit is now 8-10 since starting the season winning 11 of their first 13 games.
GAME 1: DETROIT 6, KANSAS CITY 5
WP: Joakim Soria (2-0)
LP: Y. Pino (0-1)
The first game of the highly anticipated divisional series had a lot of momentum changes. Detroit got to Royals starter Yordano Ventura ( ND, 6.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 4 K) early in the game, hitting him with a 4 spot in the run column through just two innings. Tigers starter David Price (ND, 6.1 IP, 13 H, 5 R [4 ER], 1 K) was cruising, up until the Royals put up four runs of their own in the 4th inning to tie the game up. Kansas City later took the lead in the 7th inning to go up 5-4, but then Detroit answered right back in the bottom half. This set up a season first for Detroit in the bottom of the ninth.
Royals pitcher Yohan Pino came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth and would only throw two pitches. The first was a stand up double down the right field line off the bat of Tigers center fielder Anthony Gose, who had three hits on the night. The second pitch was a bunt single by Ian Kinsler, who went 4-for-4. Kinsler reached safely, and a throwing error by Pino allowed Gose to score the game-winning run for Detroit in walk off fashion, 6-5.
The Tigers had a scary moment with one of their top players in the top half of the 7th inning. Kansas City scored to go ahead on a base hit from Alex Gordon. David Price went to back up the throw at home plate and stepped on a bat and rolled his ankle. He was taken out of the game for precautionary reasons after the play. He has been diagnosed with a mild hamstring strain, and will have his next scheduled start pushed back two days.
GAME 2: KANSAS CITY 6, DETROIT 2
WP: Jeremy Guthrie (2-2)
LP: Anibal Sanchez (2-4)
The Royals came out for Saturday’s matinee with an aggressive approach at the plate against Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez (L, 6.0 IP, 9 H, 6 R [5 ER], 3 BB, 2 K). Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar got the hit parade started with a lead off solo home run on the first pitch of the game. He and Kansas City first baseman Eric Hosmer each were 2-for-2 with two runs batted in each within the first two innings of the game against Sanchez. Much like the Tigers the night before, the Royals had a 4-run lead early in the game.
The Tigers struggled to hit in the clutch on Saturday, going only 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. The lone hit came off the bat of third baseman Nick Castellanos, which was a 7th inning triple that scored Victor Martinez. Castellanos also had a sacrifice flyout in the bottom of the 2nd inning, accounting for the only Tigers runs on the afternoon.
Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez, who hadn’t recorded a hit in his last 29 plate appearances, got off the schneid in his first at-bat on Saturday with a sharp single. Martinez has seen his average dip to .222 in the last week or so. Since April 30th, he is 2-for-29 with 16 strikeouts and eight walks.
GAME 3: KANSAS CITY 2, DETROIT 1 (10 INN.)
WP: Jason Frasor (1-0)
LP: Angel Nesbitt (0-1)
S: Greg Holland (6)
The rubber match of the series was on national television, an 8:05 PM first pitch on Sunday. The bats were as cool as the on and off rainy weather in the state of Michigan on Sunday.
Tigers starter Shane Greene (ND, 8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 3 K) returned to the form he was in his first three starts of the season, pitching to contact and keeping the speedy and steal-happy Royals off the base paths. Each team could only muster five hits in the game.
Detroit once again had no answer for Royals starter Chris Young (ND, 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R [0 ER], 3 K), who was pitching in place of Jason Vargas after he was placed on the 15-day DL the day before. Young hurled another quality start against the Tigers. In 11 innings of work against Detroit this season (in the last week for that matter), he has given up just three hits, three base on balls, and struck out 12 Tigers hitters.
The game went through a long rain delay late before heading into extra innings, where Royals second baseman and former Tiger Omar Infante scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice flyout to go up 2-1. Detroit answered back and seemed like they were going to complete the comeback for the second time in three days against Kansas City. They had bases loaded and no outs, but a 5-2-3 double play off the bat of Hernan Perez severely hurt their chances. Perez was pinch hitting for Miguel Cabrera after Cabrera was lifted for a pinch runner the inning before. A Victor Martinez walk loaded the bases up again with two outs for left fielder Yoenis Cespedes, but Cespedes would strike out to leave them loaded and end the game.