MLB: Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals

RECAP: Royals 4, Tigers 10; Bombs Away

It’s difficult to win when your team coughs up five home runs. If you want to look on the bright side (if you’re that kind of an optimist that there’s a brbrera.ight side to five home runs, congratulations) four of the bombs were solo. The fifth one that pushed Detroit into the lead they wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the night was a two-run opposite field laser from Miguel Cabrera.

Once Ned Yost veered from his golden four in the bullpen, the game officially went off the rails. When Chien-Ming Wang came in, the only question was whether or not the Tigers would get a sixth home run. They did when Victor Martinez left the yard for the third time on the evening. That tied a Royals team record for most home runs allowed in a game. It was last done in the dark days of May 2007.

Get ‘em tomorrow.

Change-Ups With Duffy

Danny Duffy has tried to explain his transformation to trusted starter and struggles to come up with a sufficient explanation. That’s not surprising.They don’t think about the process. They just execute. However, one thing Duffy has mentioned is his confidence level is much higher because he’s able to put the ball exactly where he wants to locate it. You could see it on Thursday on his change-up. He was painting the corners when he needed a strike. He was shoving it just off the plate when he wanted the hitter to chase or when he was setting up for the next pitch.

An example of this could be seen in the third inning duel against Jose Iglesias. With runners on first and second and one out, Duffy was looking for a ground ball to get the double play. He opened with a fastball off the inside corner. The second pitch was the change-up highlighted in the graphic below.

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I’m not sure Gameday does this pitch justice. And the “Nasty Factor” at 36 (on a scale of 0-100) is pretty low. But it was a perfectly placed pitch on the corner that spun right into the target. The change on the outside set up the 95 mph fastball up and in that was taken for the second strike. It all led to the fourth and final pitch that resulted in the ground ball Duffy was looking for.

Naturally, we need to discuss the home runs. Duffy allowed three of them, all of the solo variety. The first one was crushed by Victor Martinez in the second. It was a fastball in the meaty part of the plate. Martinez doesn’t miss many of those. Especially when he’s geared up to swing at the first pitch.

The second time they squared off, Duffy tried to work Martinez away. On the eighth pitch, Martinez turned on a change that was up and out on the outer half of the plate. This one wasn’t a poor pitch. It was simply one Martinez was able to measure after getting a good luck at Duffy in that plate appearance. The third home run – and second of that inning – was a middle-middle 3-1 fastball to Nick Castellanos. Not a good pitch.

Duffy scuffled a bit and let his pitch count crawl up high enough he couldn’t come out for the sixth. Maybe just as well as he was at 88 pitches and Victor Martinez was set to face Duffy for a third time. Duffy, as we are well aware, has had his issues navigating a lineup the third time through.

First Strike

This new-look Royals offense with Whit Merrifield at the top believes on getting their action done early. Just more first inning runs. A Merrifield single, an Alcides Escobar double, an Eric Hosmer ground out, and a Lorenzo Cain double sequenced together to score two.

The Royals have now scored 42 runs in the first inning, which is the third most in the AL. They’re also slugging .502 in the frame, which is the second best rate in the league. That’s nearly 100 points higher than their slugging percentage for a full game. It would be nice to spread some of that power throughout the game. And it’s kind of amazing that the Royals have been so productive in the first given the dead lineup weight of Escobar taking his hacks in that frame. Credit these days to Merrifield, Hosmer and Cain.

The other stat that may interest you is the Royals have a 27-8 record when scoring first. That’s the best mark in the AL. It doesn’t always work the way you think it should.

Bullpen Implosion

When Joakim Soria came out for the sixth, I wondered if he was maybe going to throw two innings, bridging the game to Kelvin Herrera in the eighth. My thinking was since Luke Hochevar threw 1.1 innings the game prior, Yost wouldn’t want to go there again. Does a multiple inning stretch – even one that lasts just 15 pitches – have an affect on a reliever? Especially in this age of specialized relievers who rarely throw beyond the inning in which they first appear. These are mostly rhetorical questions.

At any rate, Hochevar wasn’t sharp. The home run he allowed to James McCann to tie the game was high cheese. Fat city. The home run Cabrera hit was just good hitting on his part. He does that sort of thing, you know. By the time he left the game the Royals were down two. Any hope the Royals had in clawing back in this one disappeared when Peter Moylan couldn’t keep Detroit off the scoreboard in the eighth.

Up Next

The Royals look for an encore performance from Yordano Ventura and to keep the pressure on the rest of Central with at 7:15 start. Detroit counters with Michael Fulmer.

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