KC tops Detroit in Round 1 of Central clash

KC tops Detroit in Round 1 of Central clash

KANSAS CITY -- Royals left-hander Danny Duffy delivered his longest outing of the season, seven-plus innings, and his offense banged out 14 hits in an 8-1 victory over Detroit on Thursday in the first meeting between the American League Central rivals this season.

Eric Hosmer slammed a two-run homer in the third, and the Royals poured on five runs in the fifth to go up 8-0. The Royals reclaimed first place in the division after a 15-7 April.

"It's a great way to start the season," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I'm just pleased with everything. I'm pleased with our approach at the plate, our defense, our baserunning, our bullpen, our starting pitching. All facets.

"I've been really amazed at the focus our team has had from the very first day of Spring Training on what they want to accomplish and what they can accomplish."

The Royals were just 6-13 against the Tigers last season.

"All today means is it was a great day," Yost said. "Tomorrow's another day. We know how tough the Tigers are."

Duffy gave up seven hits while walking two and striking out seven in his best performance of 2015.

Detroit's Alfredo Simon entered the game with a 4-0 record and a 1.65 ERA, but the Royals peppered him for nine hits and six runs, chasing him with one out in the fifth.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
A Hoz bomb: Hosmer blasted an opposite-field homer in Cleveland on Wednesday night, and followed up with a towering bomb over the 410-foot sign in straightaway center at The K. The homer measured 421 feet, and with third baseman Mike Moustakas aboard, the Royals went up, 3-0. Hosmer loves hitting at home this season -- he went into the game hitting .414 in Kansas City.

"I was trying to be aggressive there," Hosmer said, "and I just put a good swing on it.

Hosmer's two-run blast

Simon says duck: Nobody expected Simon to win his first four starts of the season, let alone pitch efficiently and effectively in each. Once he did, most everyone expected an outing like this at some point. He left pitches up in the strike zone and paid dearly for them. Eight of his nine hits were hit in the air, and four either hit the wall or -- in the case of Hosmer's homer -- cleared it.

"In a lot of situations, I was behind in the count," Simon said. "I just tried to throw a strike and when it was up, they put a good swing on it. I think my split in the first couple innings didn't work very good, and they took advantage of that."

Simon works out of trouble

Moose beating the shift: Teams keep shifting against Moustakas, and Moustakas keeps finding ways to beat it. He put down perhaps the best bunt of his career in the first inning, dropping the ball down the third-base line and rolling it past the bag. He then crushed a double off the right-field wall in the third to put the Royals up, 1-0.

"That was a great bunt there, and it opened things up for him," Hosmer said. "Then he came through with the big double."

Moustakas' RBI double

Just Doesn't (hit Duffy): Though J.D. Martinez has crushed left-handers last season, he was just 1-for-6 with a home run off Duffy entering the night, a trend that continued Thursday. The Tigers had multiple runners on base just twice against Duffy, both times with two outs and Martinez due up. Both times, Duffy struck him out to end the threats, with a first-inning changeup and a sixth-inning curveball.

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Simon's ERA rose from 1.65 to 3.13 with Thursday's loss. He gave up three doubles and a home run, the same totals he gave up in his first four starts combined.

WHAT'S NEXT
Tigers: Left-hander Kyle Lobstein, who helped the Tigers pull out their fourth straight AL Central title last season, gets his first matchup with the team they beat for that nod. He will be making his fourth start this season in place of the injured Justin Verlander.

Royals: Right-hander Chris Young likely will make his first start as a Royal in a 7:10 p.m. CT start. Young, signed as a long reliever and as depth for the rotation, will be taking the place of right-hander Edinson Volquez, currently serving his five-game suspension for the altercation with the White Sox last Thursday.

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Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.