Royals take loss to Tigers in stride
Detroit — They were beaten but hardly bowed.
The Royals, after a 9-5 loss in the opener of a three-game series against the Tigers on Monday, were a long way from feeling in any way dispirited. Collectively, they may have even felt emboldened.
“We are two even teams, but we certainly feel we are as good as them and have a chance to win,” said Royals starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, who was the victim of some sloppy defense in both a two-run second and a six-run third inning.
“Two games separated two teams after 140-some games, so we’re certainly two even teams.”
That margin is down to one now and the Royals know there is a perception outside their clubhouse and the state of Missouri that because they haven’t been in first place this late in a season since Willie Wilson and George Brett were doing damage, they weren’t going to be ready for this stage.
They would like to offer up the game Monday as an example of their resiliency and fortitude. Down 8-2 going into the seventh inning against a sharp Justin Verlander, the Royals kept scratching and had the tying run at the plate in the eighth inning.
“That’s the mentality of this team, the approach and the personality,” Guthrie said. “It will bode well for us all the way until the end of the season. We believe in each other and believe we have a chance to win every game.”
The fight-back was typical of this team, the defensive lapses were not.
“It wasn’t one of our better defensive games,” manager Ned Yost said.
The Tigers opened the scoring with two unearned runs in the second when Gold Glove-winning first baseman Eric Hosmer made two errors on the same two-out ground ball from Andrew Romine.
“I just flat-out missed it,” Hosmer said. “I tried to come through it and flip it to Guthrie and just missed it. No excuse for it. It put us in a big hole. Just an unfortunate play.”
One run scored on the bobble and another scored when Hosmer threw the ball past Guthrie, who was covering first.
The six-run third inning was ignited by a slow turn on a double-play ball by second baseman and former Tiger Omar Infante. Don Kelly, Nick Castellanos and Alex Avila followed with doubles and the rout seemed to be on.
Except the Royals, a team that hadn’t scored more than four runs in the last eight games, didn’t roll over.
“I knew that was going to happen,” Yost said of his team’s rally. “We were down six and I knew somewhere between that point in the third and the end of the game we were going to make it interesting.
“And we wound up getting the tying run to the plate in the eighth.”
The Royals scored two off Verlander in seventh — a triple by Hosmer started the inning. And after he scored on a ground-out, Lorenzo Cain knocked a liner to right-center that Torii Hunter appeared ready to catch until he collided with Kelly.
Cain circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run.
They scored another in the eighth against Joba Chamberlain and had runners on first and third when Billy Butler grounded out to end the threat.
“That’s what we do day in and day out — we compete,” Butler said. “We just dug too big of a hole. You can’t give a team a six-run inning; that’s tough to come back from. But we fought to the end.
“But, you know, we put up five runs. Any other day we win. Any time we put up four runs or more, our record is off the charts.”
They are 62-10 when they score at least three runs.
“This is only one game,” Hosmer said. “Nothing we can do about it except bounce back and even it out tomorrow.”