Tigers Pound Big Game James, Infante and Dirks Turn in Twin 5-for-5 Nights As Tigers Roll 16-2

Dirks and Infante swung big bats.

Dirks and Infante swung big bats.

James Shields, the Royals’ vaunted offseason pickup, had owned the Tigers for his career up to this point; in 13 starts, Shields posted a 6-2 record with a 3.27 ERA over 88 IP, along with 64 strikeouts and 16 walks. The Tigers had also struggled to score runs in Kaufman Stadium since the 2011 season. According to Dan Dickerson, the Tigers had averaged only 3.3 runs per game in KC going back to the start of the 2011 season. Anibal Sanchez, in his two starts vs. KC, had never won and never gotten any run support either; both losses were 1-0 affairs. This game was setting up to be a tight, tense pitchers’ duel.

Then James Shields imploded. Shields struggled early and often, lasting only 3.2 IP as he gave up 10 runs on 14 hits and 2 walks, while striking out six. Shields’ 3.03 ERA jumped all the way to 3.43 after this stinker of a start. The reliever that game in to mop up after Shields didn’t fare much better. Luis Mendoza got rocked as well, giving up five runs in his 3.1 IP. The only Royals pitcher who didn’t allow a run was Louis Coleman, who gave the Royals a clean inning of work. All told, it was an ugly night to be a Royals pitcher.

More after the jump

On the other side, Sanchez was strong in his 7 IP, allowing one run on seven hits and 1 walk; he also struck out five. Sanchez was hardly in trouble after the first inning, and looked playoff-ready. After Sanchez was done, Luke Putkonen came in and gave the Tigers a scoreless inning which included two strikeouts.

Putkonen has quietly been making a case for the playoff roster. To be eligible for the playoff roster, a player must be on the 25-man roster, the disabled list, the bereavement list, or the suspended list as of midnight August 31st. The exception to this rule is “a player who is on the disabled list at the end of the regular season may be replaced on the postseason roster by any other player who was in the organization on August 31, with the approval of the commissioner of baseball.” This is important, because Octavio Dotel and Luis Marte are currently on the DL and can be replaced by anyone in the organization—it doesn’t even have to be a pitcher, it could be, say, Nick Castellanos—as long as the replacement was in the organization by August 31st. The Tigers may also choose to remove someone who is currently on the playoff roster, like Al Alburquerque or Jeremy Bonderman, in favor of Putkonen.

Anyway, back to the game. Andy Dirks and Omar Infante both came up with big nights, and every one in the starting lineup had at least two hits, except for Miguel Cabrera and Ramon Santiago. Dirks went 5-for-5, plus a walk, and drove in one; he also scored four times. Infante also went 5-for-5 and scored twice, while driving in six RBI.

Bullet Points

  • Ramon Santiago stepped in for Jose Iglesias, who missed the game due to bilateral shin splints suffered in the blowout against Boston. Santiago went 1-for-5 with a 2 RBI double.
  • The bottom four hitters in the lineup collected fourteen hits and three walks, and drove in 10 of the 16 runs.
  • Prior to this start, the Tigers had scored just 8 runs in 29 IP in 4 games vs. Shields this year, via Dickerson.

    Justin Verlander (12-10, 3.59 ERA) goes tomorrow, looking to build on his last start, in which he went 7 IP and allowed no runs on four hits, with two walks and six strikeouts. Danny Duffy (2-0, 1.35 ERA) will start for the Royals. Duffy has pitched well for the Royals in four starts since returning from Tommy John surgery after missing most of the 2012 season.

    Nick Castellanos will be getting the start in LF against the left hander Duffy, over a struggling Matt Tuiasosopo.

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