The Kansas City Royals started off the 2014 season by blowing an early 2-run lead against the Detroit Tigers and Justin Verlander, to lose 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The Royals scored 3 runs in the 4th inning to take a 3-1 lead but faltered in the 7th and the 9th to drop the game to the defending AL Central champions.
On the Mound
James Shields was tagged for the first three runs in 6.1 innings. Victor Martinez hit a homer against Shields in the 2nd, but Shields shut down the Tigers over the next 4 plus innings. In the bottom of the 7th, he retired Martinez but allowed a triple to Austin Jackson, then walked his only batter of the day.
The bullpen failed him at that point. Shields finished with 3 strikeouts, and allowed just 5 hits in the game.
Crow relieved Shields and promptly struck out rookie Nick Castellanos, but threw a wild pitch to the next batter, scoring Jackson from third. Then Crow served up a triple to the recently signed Alex Gonzalez to score another run.
Wade Davis pitched a hitless 8th but with one out in the 9th, he walked his second batter on the day and then a single to Castellanos. Greg Holland relieved Davis and gave up the game winning single to Gonzalez, the 37-year old veteran.
At the Plate
The hitting star was clearly Salvador Perez. The Royals young catcher produced 4 of the Royals’ 7 hits, including 2 doubles. Perez scored a run and drove in another. The problem was there wasn’t much help around him.
Norichika Aoki, brought in because of his skills at getting on base, went 0-5 with 2 strikeouts. Omar Infante went 0-4 but got an RBI by walking with the bases loaded in the 4th. Alex Gordon, moved down to 5th with the signing of Aoki, went 0-3 but walked an scored in the 4th.
Some of the names have changed but the results looked same. Hopefully the offense will turn it around quickly.
This and That
Perez was the first Kansas City Royals player to get four hits on Opening Day since Freddie Patek in 1979.
Kansas City pitchers walked just 3 hitters on the day but 2 of them scored.
The Royals haven’t won on Opening Day since 2008, when they opened the season in Detroit with a 3-game sweep.
KC Kingdom Player of the Game
An easy choice in game one. Salvador Perez went 4-4, and produced 2 or the Royals 3 runs. If the bullpen would have came through, Shields would have been a candidate.
- Salvador Perez
Alex Gonzalez was an unlikely hero but his triple in the 7th tied the game, and his single in the 9th won the game for Detroit.
Justin Verlander was a bit un-Verlander-like. He pitched 6 innings, giving up 3 runs (1 unearned), while striking out 2 and walking 3.
Last year, the bullpen was a weakness for the Tigers. On Monday, three relievers pitched 3 total innings, allowing just 1 hit and no walks. Joe Nathan notched his first save as a Tiger.