The Kansas City Royals showed a lot of moxie by coming from behind a few times and finally wearing down the back end of the Tigers bullpen to take game 1 of the 3-game set by a 4-3 margin.
It all started in the 8th with Willie Bloomquist. Willie Bloomquist? Really? Come on Joel Zumaya! This guy was the difference tonight as he hit a solo homer in the 6th (his 2nd of the year) off of starter Armando Galarraga and then hit a go-ahead 2-run triple in the top of the 8th off of Zumaya after a single and a walk to start the inning. Per the usual, Zumaya was getting into trouble by throwing too many balls. As a result, Bloomquist knew a fastball was coming and ripped one into the right-centerfield gap. Message to Zumaya: it matters not how hard you throw if you cannot throw a strike.
Zumaya was fortunate enough to be bailed out by an RBI double in the bottom half of the 8th by Ryan Raburn, driving in pinch-runner Josh Anderson from 1st. Raburn was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple and the brief rally was cut short but the Tigers had tied the score at 3. Enter Fernando Rodney. Rodney has been horrible in non-save situations this year yet here he was for Mike Jacobs to take advantage of. The struggling slugger Jacobs hit a moon shot to right to put the Royals back on top for good 4-3. Joakim Soria came in and closed out the Tigers in the 9th for his 13th save of the year.
Armando Galarraga was flat out dirty on this night and deserved a win that our bullpen wouldn’t let him have. His only blemish was a solo homer by the light-hitting Willie Bloomquist in the top of the 6th. Armando pitched 7 innings, gving up 5 hits and striking out 7 to back up the 1 run allowed. Probably his most important statistic was that he only walked one hitter and that was David DeJesus to lead off the game. His breaking balls were really impressive to the point of being almost unhittable.
Marcus Thames started the scoring back in the 2nd inning with a solo homer that he hit 400 feet to left field on an outside pitch and an off-balance swing. That boy has some serious power. The homer was his 7th of the year. After Bloomquist’s solo shot in the 6th, Raburn answered right back with a solo homer of his own in the bottom half to put the Tigers back up 2-1.
The Tigers drop to 44-38 and the Royals improve to 36-46 with the win. The 2nd place Twins now sneak within 1.5 games of the Tigers in the Central.
Game 2 of the series pits Justin Verlander (8-4) v. Bruce Chen (0-2). With Zack Greinke looming on Wednesday, the Tigers have to win this game in order to salvage something in this series after dropping a game they had won a few times tonight.
Tiger Bites: Carlos Guillen (shoulder) was taking batting practice and throwing balls around the park before the game today, despite how much I rag on his defense, we sure could use his steady bat back in the lineup…prior to tonight’s game, Dan Neuman, a loyal isportsweb reader, put together a breakdown of the Tigers’ 2nd half schedule, 2 things become instantly clear, it’s a home loaded schedule and we play a ton of games against the rest of the AL Central, check it out:
Joe, Of the 81 Games remaining, the Tigers play teams from the Central 44 times. 29 of those are at home and only 15 on the road. Here’s the breakdown:
White Sox 7H 3A
Twins 7H 3A
Royals 9H 3A
Indians 6H 6A
Tot 29H 15A
Yankees 0H 3A
Orioles 4H 0A
Red Sox 0H 4A
Rays 4H 3A
Blue Jays 4H 0A
Tot 12H 10A
Mariners 6H 0A
Rangers 0H 3A
A’s 0H 3A
Angels 0H 3A
Tot 6H 9A
I believe this is a great schedule for Detroit to take advantage of.