KANSAS CITY -- In a battle of whose bullpen could hang on last, it was the Tigers' relievers who finally secured a lead in the end during a wild 10-7 victory over the Royals on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Tigers relievers Alex Wilson and Justin Wilson finally restored some order: Alex Wilson pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning, and Justin Wilson worked a scoreless ninth for his fourth save.
"It was a little bit of a roller coaster," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said, "but it was nice to see the bats break out."
The Royals' bullpen was involved in surrendering a 3-0 lead during a six-run fifth inning as Victor Martinez hit a two-run double off Mike Minor and J.D. Martinez followed with a three-run homer. Minor came into the game with a 1.69 ERA.
The Royals fought back with two runs in the sixth off Tigers reliever Shane Greene. Then, Eric Hosmer smashed an opposite-field home run off reliever Francisco Rodriguez in the seventh, and the Royals had a 7-6 lead.
But Royals right-hander Joakim Soria, who came into the game with a 1.59 ERA, faced five batters and all five reached during a four-run eighth. Soria gave up an RBI single to Alex Presley, and threw a wild pitch that scored another run, giving Detroit an 8-7 lead. Left-hander Matt Strahm relieved Soria and after getting a strikeout, he gave up a two-run single to Miguel Cabrera.
"[Soria] just wasn't sharp," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Just battled command. Just struggled to find command. Just shows you how funny this game can be. Two of our best relievers in Minor and Soria, I mean they've been consistently good all year. They took some damage tonight. It's a hard game to go out and be great every night."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Going for the cycle:Whit Merrifield had a chance for a cycle -- it would have been the Royals' first since George Brett did it on July 25, 1990 -- when he came up in the seventh. But Merrifield flied out to medium right-center. Merrifield also was going for the rare reverse cycle -- homer, triple, double and single -- and he would have been just the seventh in Major League history to accomplish that feat, according to research done by the YES Network. Rajai Davis was the last to do the reverse cycle with the Indians in 2016. More >
J-Mart launches: The Tigers wiped out a 3-0 deficit when Royals starter Jason Hammel suddenly lost his command in the fifth.. Hammel gave up a single and three walks, the last of which came to Cabrera with the bases loaded, making it 3-1. Victor Martinez greeted Minor with a two-run double. J.D. Martinez then crushed a three-run homer for a 6-3 lead.
"I just got too cute there," Hammel said. "I needed to get back in the strike zone there. Not really anything hit hard, but I just got hurt by the walks. I felt really good about the first four innings."
"I think it's hard to relax when you lose three games in Houston and three games in Chicago. There was a lot of pressure in the clubhouse, a lot of pressure in the game. But today we go out there and play baseball. We stopped thinking about the bad things we do in the past, the mistakes we do in the past, we come in today to play baseball. Hopefully we can do that tomorrow and the rest of the season." -- Cabrera, on the Tigers' focus
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J.D. Martinez's home run traveled a projected 435 feet with an exit velocity of 110 mph, according to Statcast™. It was his eighth home run since returning from the disabled list on May 12. Four have measured 425 feet or longer, and five have had an exit velocity of 109 mph or higher.
Moments after Daniel Norris ran down Alcides Escobar on a first-inning pickoff, the Tigers saved him some pitches by challenging Lorenzo Cain's infield single. After a 36-second review the call was overturned, as replay officials determined that Jose Iglesias' acrobatic throw from deep in the hole at shortstop beat Cain to the bag, ending the first inning.
The Royals challenged an out call in the third inning when second baseman Andrew Romine bobbled the throw from shortstop Iglesias on a potential force play as Alex Gordon slid into the base. After a 38-second review, the call was overturned.
WHAT'S NEXT Tigers: Right-hander Justin Verlander has struggled on the road this season (2-3 with a 7.64 ERA), but he's 13-5 with a 2.98 ERA for his career at Kauffman Stadium. One of these trends will hold when Verlander takes the mound for the second game of the series on Tuesday at 8:15 p.m. ET.
Royals: Left-hander Eric Skoglund, ranked as the Royals' No. 3 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, is expected to make his Major League debut in a start on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. CT against the Tigers. Skoglund, 24, is 2-3 with a 4.53 ERA at Triple-A Omaha this season.