DETROIT -- The Royals jumped on nemesis Anibal Sanchez early for six runs over the first four innings, including Alcides Escobar's leadoff home run, en route to a 6-2 win over the Tigers on Saturday at Comerica Park.
Sanchez was 6-2 with a 1.40 ERA in eight career starts against the Royals, including last Sunday's 7 1/3 innings of three-run ball to salvage a four-game series split. He hadn't given up a home run in 57 1/3 innings against Kansas City, but he gave up one to Escobar on his first pitch of the afternoon. Escobar and Eric Hosmer added RBI singles in the second, Alex Gordon scored in the third and Kendrys Morales doubled and scored in a two-out rally in the fourth.
"I knew they were coming really aggressive," Sanchez said. "They did it yesterday [against David Price]. They started today like that." More >
Jeremy Guthrie, meanwhile, was just 2-5 with a 4.53 ERA for his career at Comerica Park, but he delivered 7 1/3 innings of two-run ball, scattering eight hits in by far his best outing of the season.
"Funny how baseball is," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Just one start ago we can't do anything off Sanchez and they whack Guthrie around. And today they can't do anything off Jeremy and we got some runs off Sanchez."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED One pitch, one run: Escobar sent Sanchez's first pitch of the game over the left-field wall for his first homer of the season. It also was Escobar's first career leadoff homer. And it was the Royals' first first-pitch leadoff homer since Alex Gordon did it on Sept. 29, 2013. More >
"That just really set the tone," Yost said. "It relaxed everyone to get that first run."
Red-hot Hoz: Hosmer now has hit in six straight games and continues to see the ball well. In the first inning, Hosmer laced an RBI double that plated Lorenzo Cain and gave the Royals a 2-0 lead. With two out in the second, Hosmer came through again, singling to center to score Escobar.
"We wanted to come out and get him early," Hosmer said. "He throws a lot of strikes so we wanted to strike early."
V-Mart swinging sweeter: Though Victor Martinez swung his way out of a funk in Chicago against back-to-back lefties, he needed it to translate against righties, when his left-handed swing puts pressure on his surgically repaired left knee. His double to the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center field on Saturday was his first extra-base hit off a righty all season, leading to a run. He added a long single off the right-field wall in the eighth. More >
"I'm still not where I want to be right now," Martinez said, "but at least I'm able to go out there and compete and have good at-bats, and help the team."
Lift the bat: As Guthrie settled in, the Tigers essentially challenged him to spot pitches on the outside corner after Yoenis Cespedes' one-out double in the fourth, taking 15 consecutive pitches. J.D. Martinez walked and Nick Castellanos struck out looking before James McCann chased a pitch and struck out on a 3-2 fastball to end the threat. More >
"It looked like he used both sides of the plate very well," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "He was a little sneaky with his fastball and he stayed out of the heart [of the strike zone]. He was on the edges of the plate."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Sanchez used to own the Royals. From 2012-14, Sanchez threw 50 1/3 innings against the Kansas City and gave up just six earned runs (1.07 ERA). But in his last 13 1/3 innings, he has given up eight runs (5.40 ERA).
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Right-hander Chris Young is the scheduled starter for the series finale -- he is 3-0 in his career with a 1.41 ERA against the Tigers -- on Sunday at 7:05 p.m. CT. He's had two career starts at Comerica and has a 2.08 ERA. In a spot start on May 1, Young fired five no-hit innings against Detroit at Kauffman Stadium.
Tigers:Shane Greene tries to shake a slump that has seen him give up 20 runs on 23 hits over 11 innings in his last three starts when he takes the ball on Sunday at 8:05 p.m. CT. He did not face the Royals during last weekend's series at Kauffman Stadium.