By Jeffrey Flanagan and Jason Beck
MLB.com |@beckjason |
KANSAS CITY -- Rookie Whit Merrifield had three hits and drove in four runs, and Kendrys Morales had four hits and five RBIs in the Royals' 16-5 rout of the Tigers on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals remained one-half game behind the first-place Indians in the American League Central while the Tigers dropped to 3 1/2 games back.
"We were just putting good swings on everything," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "A lot of guys had good nights."
Royals right-hander Edinson Volquez was strong for six innings, giving up just two runs and four hits. At one point he retired 14 straight. But Volquez gave up four hits and three runs in the seventh before Yost came and got him.
"I just kind of lost the plate in the first," Volquez said. 'In the seventh, I think I just got some pitches up. That's a good-hitting team."
Tigers starter Matt Boyd was chased after 3 2/3 innings. The lefty gave up eight hits and seven runs while walking none and striking out one. As the Royals hammered the Tigers' bullpen for the second straight night, infielder Andrew Romine was called upon to pitch part of the eighth -- he walked two but got two outs.
"It happens at some point for every team during the season, but yeah, it's embarrassing," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "You don't want to do that. You don't want Andrew Romine to go out there and get hurt."
Justin Upton belted his sixth homer, a two-run shot off the left-field foul pole in the seventh.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The wHits keep coming: Merrifield extended his hitting streak to seven games -- he's 14-for-33 in that span. After Cheslor Cuthbert couldn't get a run home with runners on first and third and one out against Boyd in the second, Merrifield picked him up with a two-run double. Third-base coach Mike Jirschele made an aggressive send with Brett Eibner, who scored ahead of the throw. Merrifield also singled in a run in the fourth inning, making it 6-2. Merrifield singled in another run in the sixth.
On the two-out hitting, Merrifield said, "You get three outs in an inning. The inning isn't over until all three outs are recorded. Even with two outs, you have to scrap out an at-bat and push across runs if you can. ... You definitely want to help your teammates out. You're not going to get the job done every time in this league. If the guy in front of you can't do it, you try to pick him up."
Yost continues to be impressed with Whitfield.
"He just keeps continuing putting good at-bat and good at-bat together," Yost said. "He just finds a way to get the ball in play and find holes."
Needing a finish: Boyd had two-strike counts on seven of the first nine batters he faced, but didn't strike out any of them. That includes the first three batters of the second inning, all of whom battled for base hits to build the Royals' first rally. Boyd had one swing-and-miss, technically a foul tip, over the first 13 batters he faced before getting Salvador Perez to chase a changeup out of the zone for a strikeout to end the third inning. Boyd was optioned to Triple-A Toledo after the game to get more work. More >
"He did throw strikes," Ausmus said, "but it's kind of a catch-22 against these guys because they're swingers and they hit strikes."
Here comes Big Ken: Morales, the Royals' designated hitter, came into the game hitting .212, but he has looked better lately. Morales extended his hitting streak to seven games with an RBI single in the second. Morales then roped a double to lead off the fourth. Then, Morales smashed a two-run double in the seventh, and a two-run single in the eighth. He now has reached base in 10 of his last 11 plate appearances. More >
Coincidentally, it was Kendrys Morales Bobblehead Day at The K.
"I [hit] like it was my Bobblehead Day," a smiling Morales said through interpreter Pedro Grifol. "I'm just fortunate I was able to put on a good showing for my day."
Upton strikes again: For the second consecutive night, Upton powered a late-inning home run with the Tigers trailing, this time a two-run shot off the left-field pole against Volquez. Upton's two-hit performance extended his hitting streak to a season-high eight games, during which he's 10-for-32.
What was initially ruled a pickoff of Jose Iglesias at first base in the seventh inning was overturned on a Tigers challenge when replay showed Iglesias got his hand back to first base ahead of Eric Hosmer's tag. However, Iglesias was soon retired when another replay showed Merrifield got the tag down on Iglesias' way to second base on Ian Kinsler's comebacker.
WHAT'S NEXT Tigers: Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (9-3, 3.46 ERA) will take the mound in Sunday's series finale at 2:15 p.m. ET trying to salvage a four-game split and a 5-5 road trip. He has yielded 15 runs (13 earned) on 21 hits over 17 1/3 innings in three June starts.
Royals: Right-hander Chris Young (2-6, 6.15) will get the ball for the finale of the homestand on Sunday at 1:15 p.m. CT. Young, making his 10th start, went 4 1/3 innings his last time out against Cleveland in a 3-2 win. He is 4-0 career against Detroit with a 1.71 ERA.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.