Kansas City, Missouri – What do they have in common? Sleeping dogs and snoozing Royals shouldn’t be disturbed.
Within sight, however, of getting swept four straight by the first-place Tigers, the Kansas City Royals finally awoke en route to a 5-2 victory on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium.
Down by two runs in the seventh against Justin Verlander, who seemed to be sailing along, the Royals struck for all five of their runs.
Four singles and a grounder to second produced the first two runs. Billy Butler’s base hit started it, but not putting away a struggling Mike Moustakas on a 1-2 count kept it going.
“I didn’t feel any differently in the seventh,” Verlander said. “I felt good through the sixth, keeping guys off balance, but I felt good in the seventh, too.
“The pitches I threw on the hits I gave up in the seventh were all where I wanted them to be.
“Like the pitch to Moustakas, it was belt in — where I wanted it.”
But without the desired result.
Omar Infante’s two-run, two-out single off Al Alburquerque was the tie-breaking hit. Eric Hosmer added another with a run-scoring ground-rule double off Phil Coke.
“Five runs at that point in the game usually does it,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “But Justin was throwing well. He had a good down angle on his fastball, and his slider was really good.
“I wanted him to have a good outing before the break. I want him to have a good outing every time, actually, but it didn’t work out quite the way we wanted.
“The big picture, though, is that we took three of four in Kansas City and can go into our little mini-vacation with that in mind.
“There’s nothing to feel bad about,” Ausmus said.
For most of the game, though — especially with Verlander (8-8) looking like he might win his third start in a row, which would have tied a season high — it appeared as the Tigers would complete the sweep against the Royals.
The Tigers had scored twice in the third off starter Bruce Chen — the first run on a Miguel Cabrera sacrifice fly, the second on a J.D. Martinez pop-up to left that the bumbling Royals turned into a run-scoring single.
But that was the extent of the offense for both teams until Kansas City kicked up its heel with its four consecutive singles in the seventh —— the fourth of which was an infield single by Alcides Escobar on which the Royals scored their first run.
“That one probably stung the most,” said Ausmus, “because the ball took such a weird turn.”
But despite the loss, the Tigers stretched their first-place lead over the Royals from 4 ˝ games to 6 ˝ by taking three of four games in the series.
That’s reason enough for them to feel good about themselves heading into the break, don’t you think?
Even those Tigers who claim the standings mean nothing before the end of the season had to admit they mean a little something at this point.
“I certainly can’t complain,” Ausmus said before the game.
The loss was the Tigers’ first in seven games at Kauffman Stadium this season — and came just when it looked like the Royals, who would have dropped to 8 ˝ games behind with another loss, were looking like a totally irrelevant second-place team.
And they might be anyway.
But the comeback showed some spunk that had been missing in the other three games of the series.
The Tigers, meanwhile, had a bumpy ride from month to month before the break — up, down, then up again.
It was more than the first half, actually. They played 91 games before the break, caroming from a 27-12 record to a 9-20 slump to a 17-6 rebound.
“It was a roller-coaster for sure with big highs and big lows,” Ausmus said. “I don’t know that I’ve seen this kind of up, down, up.”
But with many more ups than downs.