I know we spend a lot of time in this space waxing poetic about the foibles of the 2018 Kansas City Royals, and that’s partly because the Royals have been pretty bad all year and partly because I’ve always been encouraged to write what I know and I’ve now done [quick math] holy crap, 77 recaps this year? I have a wife, a son, two dogs and I didn’t take vacation, this was a misspent summer if ever there was one. Hey, while I finish off No. 78, would the rest of y’all mind planning my intervention?
That’s not the point here. The point is that while Kansas City has been at times bad, they’ve usually been fundamentally sound and of late have been legitimately exciting at times. This was in rather direct opposition to Detroit, which sold off almost all of its players you’ve ever heard of, leaving them with… this collection of people. Niko Goodrum has been out for nine days and I suspect that has caused considerably more consternation than a good team would likely worry about.
The Tigers don’t look to have a considerable amount of talent, both now or on the horizon, but they compounded that by playing extremely sloppy baseball, at least on Friday night. Say what you want about the Royals, and God knows I have a lot this year, not one time have I thought, “I… I’m not sure that professional baseball player knows how to catch or throw a baseball.”
The struggles in the field started for Detroit in the first inning, although one of the problems didn’t make the scoreboard as an error. Adalberto Mondesi reached via error on Dawel Lugo (that’s not a real name) and then scored FROM FIRST on an Alex Gordon single, running on the pitch when Gordon blooped it into left, checking up at third only to see Christin Stewart lazily one-hop the return throw to second. Can’t do that against the fastest player in baseball, and BERTO made him pay.
Whit Merrifield stole a base after leading off the third inning with a single, because that’s what Whit does. He moved to third on Mondesi’s ground out and scored on Gordon’s single because Gordon is very, very quietly hitting .385 (10-for-26) since Sept. 15.
Everything more or less fell apart in the fourth for Detroit, although an equally baffling baserunning play helped the Tigers limit the damage. After Jorge Bonifacio led off with a walk, Alcides Escobar reached on an error when Jarrod Saltalamacchia missed a catch of Francisco Liriano’s throw to first—in fairness to Saltalamacchia, Liriano hummed a beebee from about two feet away, so it’s not all on him—to put Bonifacio on third.
Boni then got his on yuks by wandering some 30 feet off the bag at third, I suppose in anticipation of a safety squeeze? Either way, James McCann picked him off and suddenly the Royals looked like maybe they wouldn’t make anything out of this golden opportunity.
Stewart struck again, however, this time fumbling Rosell Herrera’s double all over the yard to score Escobar and give Herrera an extra base; Cam Gallagher drove him in with a sac fly to make whatever it was Stewart was purporting to do out there sting even more.
Down 4-0, the Tigers finally went to work on Ian Kennedy in the fifth, when Ronny Rodriguez tomahawked an Ian Kennedy offering into the bullpen in left. An inning later—after the Royals couldn’t bring Herrera home on a two-out triple—Nicholas Castellanos’s one-out double plated JaCoby Jones to make it a two-run game.
Kennedy might not have had the 20-game winner stuff, but he certainly did his part to ensure that he wouldn’t have to go as long between wins this time. By the time he finally exited—after a throwing error by Mondesi put Pete Kozma on to start the eighth—Kennedy had gone seven-plus innings while allowing just two earned, striking out six and scattering seven hits. He’d take the unearned run as well after Castellanos’ double down the line in left hung up in the same janky corner that Stewart had trouble with earlier in the game; Gordon didn’t kick the ball across half the outfield, but the carom did allow Kozma to score.
Wily Peralta came on in the ninth and gave up a single to Rodriguez and walked Jeimer Candelario because why not? Fortunately, he struck out Lugo and Jim Adduci for his season’s 12th save to even the series at one game apiece.
Your Unusually Happy Tweet of the Night
#Royals scored, and made Loriano throw 22 pitches. Neat.