By Jason Beck and Jeffrey Flanagan
MLB.com |@beckjason |
DETROIT -- The Royals won a battle of solo home runs, including Raul Mondesi's first Major League homer off Justin Verlander, in a 6-1 win over the Tigers on Tuesday night at Comerica Park.
Kansas City, which can sweep the series on Wednesday, secured its fourth straight series win and is 7 1/2 games back in the American League Wild Card standings. Detroit fell six games back of the first-place Indians in the AL Central and 3 1/2 out in the WC race.
"We have as good a possibility of going on a run to finish this thing off as anybody does," Royals starter Danny Duffy said. "I believe that we can do it. All of us do. There's not a single person in here that doesn't think we could go get it. We're looking forward to the challenge."
What had been billed as a pitching duel between Verlander and Danny Duffy was a low-hit affair as expected, but four of those hits cleared the outfield fences. Three of the Royals' homers were the first three hits off Verlander (12-7), who paid for hanging sliders to Mondesi in the third and Alex Gordon in the fifth before Eric Hosmer connected on an 0-2 fastball in the seventh. Two unearned runs in the eighth put Kansas City in command before Kendrys Morales greeted Mark Lowe with a home run leading off the ninth.
"You think it's going to be a real pitchers' duel and it really was," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Verlander gave up three or four hits, and it just so happens that we were lucky enough that three were home runs. It's kind of strange to our game. We're more about putting hits together and manufacturing runs."
Jarrod Saltalamacchia added to the homer parade with a drive in the fifth, but Detroit managed just two other hits, both singles, off Duffy (10-1) in 7 2/3 innings. Duffy won for the fourth consecutive start, improving to 9-0 in 13 outings since his only loss June 6.
"In the end, they outhit us," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The Mad Bunter goes yard: Mondesi has been best known for his amazing bunting skills in his rookie season -- of his 12 hits coming into the game, four were bunt hits. He also had five sacrifice bunts. But he turned on a Verlander breaking pitch in the third inning and rifled his first homer into the right-field corner. More >
"We knew it was coming sooner or later," Yost said of Mondesi's homer. "We know he's got power. He's a skinny kid who will continue to fill out and grow. We got to see that power tonight.
"It was a huge walk, too, at that point. Second and third, nobody out. It brought the top of the order back up and a chance to tack on runs, and it was a big two runs we got."
The Royals were able to secure the ball for Mondesi on his home run.
"You know it was something special for me getting my first homer against that kind of pitcher," Mondesi said.
Sluggalamacchia: Saltalamacchia started at first base in place of injuredMiguel Cabrera in part because manager Brad Ausmus hoped to take advantage of his offensive punch. Saltalamacchia's drive to the center-field shrubs traveled an estimated 438 feet from the plate, according to Statcast™. It marked Saltalamacchia's 34th RBI of the season on his 37th hit, 11 of them home runs.
Slump Brothers come through: Hosmer and Gordon had been mired in dreadful slumps -- Hosmer since the All-Star break (.190) and Gordon for most of the season. But they blasted tremendous home runs off Verlander. Gordon smoked a drive 420 feet to right field in the fifth inning, and Hosmer took one 443 feet to center in the seventh, according to Statcast™.
Kinsler catch: On a night when the Tigers' defense struggled late, Ian Kinsler provided a highlight catch when he went over his shoulder in shallow center to snare a Lorenzo Cain blooper in the fourth inning. Kinsler couldn't handle a popup that turned him around in shallow center in the eighth, but he still got a forceout at third base.
"There's an old saying: Solo homers don't hurt you. That wasn't necessarily the case today." -- Verlander
The Royals challenged a safe call at first on a pickoff play in the sixth inning. Ian Kinsler was initially ruled safe after Duffy attempted a pickoff. After review, the call was overturned and Kinsler was out.
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Right-hander Yordano Ventura (8-9, 4.60 ERA) will start on Wednesday at 6:10 p.m. CT in finale of this three-game set at Comerica Park. Ventura has gone seven straight starts allowing three runs or fewer, and he is 6-0 career against the Tigers with a 3.18 ERA.
Tigers: Right-hander Anibal Sanchez (6-12, 6.31) will try to rebound from a four-homer game against Texas in his last start when he gets the ball on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Sanchez is 6-4 with a 2.79 ERA in 12 career meetings vs. the Royals.