BBQ sauce has never looked so good.
Lorenzo Cain homered on an 0-2 pitch with two outs in the ninth to tie the game at 2, and Eric Hosmer singled in Miguel Tejada with two outs in the tenth to win it for the Royals. KC improves to 30-33 and are now 5.5 games behind the Tigers for first place.
It was Jose Valverde‘s first blown save against the Royals since April 7, 2010, snapping a streak of 20 straight saves against KC.
On the Mound
James Shields, as per usual, was excellent, but did not get the run support he needed to earn the win. At least this time he won’t be tagged for the loss. Shields allowed two earned runs on seven hits, two walks, and six strikeouts in seven innings. His ERA is now 2.79 for the season but he holds just a 2-6 record.
The bullpen, minus Tim Collins, was excellent. Collins was off for the second straight game, walking two of the three batters he faced. However, Luke Hochevar (not joking) got Collins out of a jam in the eighth and then shut down the Tigers in the ninth in a perfect 1 2/3 innings of relief. Greg Holland earned the win with a perfect tenth inning, striking out Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera before getting Prince Fielder to ground out weakly to Tejada.
At the Plate
The Royals did nothing at the plate but it was justified this time. Justin Verlander was outstanding and looked like his old Cy Young self. KC was able to jump on a terrible Detroit bullpen to steal the game.
Hosmer and Cain were the heroes. In his final two at-bats Hosmer singled off Drew Smyly and scored on Cain’s home run in the ninth and then drove in Tejada with a single off of Phil Coke to win the game. Cain was 0-for-3 with three strike outs before hitting the crucial two-run homer off of Valverde.
Kansas City had eight hits in the game, five of them came against Tigers relievers.
This and That
– As we stated earlier, Valverde had a streak of 20 straight saves against the Royals before blowing Wednesday’s game. In that game Valverde allowed a solo home run to Alberto Callaspo to tie the game and then a double to Rick Ankiel to score Willie Bloomquist from first.
– Coming into the game Valverde was 0-1 with a 2.32 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 22 saves in 31 appearances against KC.
– Per @BHIndepMO: The Royals are 24-13 with Lorenzo Cain gets a hit, 3-17 when he does not.
KC Kingdom Player of the Game
Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain are the co-Players of the Game for obvious reasons. A strong tip of the hat to James Shields as well.
- James Shields – 6
- Alex Gordon – 9
- Wade Davis – 3
- Lorenzo Cain – 4.5
- Luis Mendoza – 3
- Billy Butler – 5
- Ervin Santana – 4
- Miguel Tejada - 3
- Jeremy Guthrie -3
- Eric Hosmer - 3.5
- Chris Getz
- Mike Moustakas - 3
- Aaron Crow
- Jarrod Dyson
- David Lough – 3
- Alcides Escobar – 2
- J.C. Gutierrez
- Jeff Francoeur
- Bruce Chen
- Salvador Perez – 2
Make of this what you will: Detroit is now 36-28 on the season, but their pythagorian record is 40-24. Detroit has an issue at closer, that is for sure, but their defense also ranks as the fourth worst in the American League and sixth worst in the Majors according to Team Runs Saved (-19).
Still, Detroit is likely the best team in the American League. If they can find a closer by the trade deadline then they may be the best team in baseball.
A four-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays begins today in Tampa. The Rays have been a .500 team so far this June but they are coming off a 18-10 month of May. Kansas City has 16 games against the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, and Minnesota Twins before the All-Star break, so the Royals have to find a way to go 6-7 or better in the 13 against the Rays, Oakland A’s, Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees if they want to return to .500 or better by the break.
AL Central Notes
Detroit Tigers (36-28): Tigers have Thursday off before starting a series against the Twins on Friday.
Chicago White Sox (28-25): Chicago’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays was postponed due to bad weather. White Sox have Thursday off before traveling to Houston this weekend.
Minnesota Twins (29-33): Clete Thomas doubled in Oswaldo Arcia and then scored on a Justin De Fratus wild pitch in the bottom of the eighth to help give the Twins a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. Mike Pelfrey struck out seven in seven innings and allowed only three runs, but did not factor in the decision.