Drew Smyly came up with what was almost certainly the best start of his young career Saturday night as the Tigers cruised past the Royals by a score of 9-2.
It wasn’t the perfect game for the Tigers, who squandered some chances early and had moments of sloppiness (among them Ian Kinsler making not one, but two TOOTBLANs – getting picked off and getting thrown out trying to get to third on what should’ve been a double). It was a competitive ballgame for quite a while – 3-0 entering the ninth, and then the Tigers really broke things open.
Nick Castellanos was responsible for the first three Tiger RBI, though he got an assist on the first one. He came to bat with the bases loaded and one out in the 4th against an inefficient Danny Duffy and hit a shallow fly ball to left. Typically, a shallow fly ball to Alex Gordon with Miguel Cabrera at third isn’t a recipe for a sac fly, and Gordon knew this – but as he was preparing to flip the ball into the infield, Cabrera tagged. Gordon appeared surprised and his throw to the plate was way up the line and the Tigers jumped on top.
The 1-0 score held until the 6th. Cabrera doubled, Victor Martinez was intentionally walked (for the second time), and a Torii Hunter fly ball moved both runners up due to some KC shenanigans. An Austin Jackson groundout failed to score Cabrera, but Castellanos hit one into right that got down past Nori Aoki and scored both runners, making it 3-0.
This held until the 9th, when Detroit erupted. Bryan Holaday singled, Danny Worth doubled, Ian Kinsler got a sac fly, Miguel Cabrera singled, and Torii Hunter added the exclamation point with a long three-run homer off Aaron Brooks, who was making his Major League debut.
The real story was Smyly, who needed just 93 pitches to cruise through seven innings, allowing only two hits, walking two, and striking out six. Kansas City never really threatened all night.
The shutout was lost in the 9th inning because Phil Coke pitched.
The Tigers go for the sweep and a 6-1 road trip tomorrow with Justin Verlander on the mound to oppose Jason Vargas.