By Jason Beck and Jeffrey Flanagan
MLB.com |@beckjason |
DETROIT -- Ian Kennedy continued his second-half resurgence with 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball, allowing Raul Mondesi's RBI bunt single and Lorenzo Cain's ninth-inning RBI single to send the Royals to a 3-1 victory over the Tigers on Monday night at Comerica Park.
The Tigers, who sustained a major loss to their lineup midgame when Miguel Cabrera exited with a left biceps strain, suffered a real loss on the right arm of Kennedy (7-9), who tossed his fourth consecutive outing of six or more innings and one run or fewer allowed. He earned his first win since June 26. J.D. Martinez's 16th homer was the lone run off Kennedy, whose other four hits allowed were all ground-ball singles.
"He had just enough mix to keep you off-balance," Tigers third baseman Casey McGehee said. "Ian's been doing this a long time. His stuff has changed over the years a little bit, here and there, but the one thing that's stayed consistent, he locates his pitches pretty good."
By containing the Tigers' offense, Kennedy allowed the Royals to manufacture enough offense for the victory. Paulo Orlando's leadoff four-pitch walk and Cheslor Cuthbert's infield single set up Eric Hosmer for a sacrifice fly in the first inning before Mondesi greeted Alex Wilson by bunting home Alex Gordon from third in the sixth.
Kennedy has given up just three runs in his last four starts over 26 innings (1.04 ERA).
"Pretty good outings," Kennedy said. "I just try to go one start at a time and focus on the next start. I just focus on each start and not get ahead of yourself. Once you start feeling good about yourself, you get humbled."
Detroit remained five games behind first-place Cleveland in the American League Central and fell 2 1/2 games back of Boston in the Wild Card race. The Royals are now 10 games behind the Indians.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The Mad Bunter: Mondesi has been offensively challenged since his callup last month -- he entered the game hitting .196. But one thing he can do is bunt -- of his 12 hits so far, four have been bunts. He also has four sacrifice bunts. Mondesi got bunt hit No. 4 in the sixth inning with runners on first and third and one out. Mondesi bunted between first base and the mound and easily won the race to first as Gordon scored from third, giving the Royals a 2-0 lead.
"Yeah, you know, I got the safety squeeze sign and I've got to bunt it to first," Mondesi said. "We've got to score that run. We needed it."
Mondesi had a good idea he would beat it out for a hit, too.
"I was running hard," he said. "You never know what's going to happen."
Martinez mash: The Tigers didn't make much solid contact off Kennedy, but Martinez sent a 1-0 fastball an estimated 402 feet from the plate to left-center, according to Statcast™. It was Martinez's fourth homer in 12 games since returning from a fractured right elbow that cost him six weeks on the disabled list.
Gordon resurgence?: Royals fans all know Gordon's struggles this season. But he quietly has put together a six-game hitting streak in which he's gone 10-for-24. Gordon singled, doubled and scored against the Tigers, and has raised his average from .199 to .216 in that span.
Miggy has biceps strain: The Tigers received a scare when Cabrera left in the fifth inning with a left biceps strain he sustained reaching for an errant throw early in the game. Cabrera stayed in the game to see how he felt swinging the bat, then left after a fourth-inning flyout. Manager Brad Ausmus said he doesn't expect Cabrera to miss more than a day or two. More >
COLLINS EJECTED Tyler Collins picked up his first career ejection by arguing a called third strike in the eighth inning with home-plate umpire Dan Iassogna. Replay showed Collins saying something on his way back to the dugout, which Iassogna heard. Andrew Romine replaced Collins in center field for the ninth.
AFTER FURTHER REVIEW
The Royals challenged an out call at first base in the second inning after shortstop Alcides Escobar appeared to have rolled into a 6-4-3 double play. But after a review of 20 seconds, the call was overturned and Escobar was safe.
Five innings later, the Tigers left Kendrys Morales standing at home plate after challenging the safe call on a pickoff to first. Replay showed first baseman Jarrod Saltalamacchia tagged Cain before he reached his hand back onto the bag. The call was overturned following a 39-second review.
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Left-hander Danny Duffy (9-1, 2.82 ERA) takes the mound on Tuesday at 6:10 p.m. CT for the middle game of the series at Comerica Park. Duffy is coming off his first career complete game, a 2-1 win over the White Sox on Thursday. But Duffy has a 6.75 ERA against the Tigers this season.
Tigers: Right-hander Justin Verlander (12-6, 3.42) will try again to extend his winning streak to six consecutive decisions on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Verlander has yielded two runs or fewer in each of his last eight starts, including seven innings of one-run ball last Wednesday at Seattle.