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Live Tigers blog: K-Rod escapes, Detroit wins

Bruce Mason
The Detroit News

Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez strikes out Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas to end the game for a 3-2 Detroit victory and tie Oakland A's legend Dennis Eckersley (390) for sixth-place on the all-time saves list.

Rodriguez entered the ninth with a 3-0 lead, but gave up back-to-back solo homers with one out to Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez. He needed 29 pitches to escape and appeared to grab his arm several times on the mound.

Ian Kinsler (2 for 4, double, two RBIs) added what turned out to be a much-needed insurance run in the top of the ninth with a two-out RBI single.

Victor Martinez recorded his 1,000th career RBI to become the fifth Venezuelan-born player in Major League Baseball history to achieve the feat. He joins teammate Miguel Cabrera (1,449), Andres Galarraga (1,425), Bobby Abreu (1,363) and former Tiger Magglio Ordonez (1,236).

Uh-oh, K-Rod yields back-to-back homers

Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez gives up back-to-back homers with one out: Alex Gordon hit a 88-mph, two seam fastball and Salvador Perez hit an 81-mph changeup.

The Tigers lead 3-2 in the ninth with two outs.

Jarrod Dyson walked with two outs, then stole second. Alcides Escobar, who was 0-for-4 tonight, followed with a walk.

Mike Moustakas (2 for 4 tonight) is batting.

Entering tonight, Rodriguez had given up just one hit in his past 4 1/3 innings, which stretched back five outings to April 6 at Miami.

Rodriguez has 389 career saves and has a chance to tie Oakland A's legend Dennis Eckersley (390) for sixth-place on the all-time list.

Kinsler extends lead

Ian Kinsler’s two-out RBI single extends the Tigers lead to 3-0 in the top of the ninth.

Kinsler (2 for 4, two RBIs) recorded his eighth multi-hit game of the year, which leads the majors. He led the league last year with 61 multi-hit games.

K-Rod warming up

Tigers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia reaches base for the third time tonight, this time by hitting a leadoff double off Royals reliever Chien-Ming Wang.

Jose Iglesias grounded out to advance Saltalamacchia to third base.

There is two outs in the top of the ninth inning as the Tigers lead 2-0.

Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez is warming up in the bullpen.

Bottom 8: Iglesias shines again

Shortstop Jose Iglesias and second baseman Ian Kinsler turn a double play to help Tigers left-handed reliever Justin Wilson, who finishes the eighth with a scoreless inning.

Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas hit a leadoff single, but Wilson threw a 96-mph, four-seam fastball that Lorenzo Cain grounded into a double play.

Wilson struck out Eric Hosmer (90 mph cutter) to end the inning.

Top 8: J.D. Martinez extends on-base streak

Royals reliever (and former Tiger) Joakim Soria entered the game in the seventh and retired Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez.

The Tigers’ J.D. Martinez was hit by a pitch with two outs. He has reached base in all 13 games this season (and 19 straight games dating back to September).

Nick Castellanos flew out to end the inning.

The Tigers lead 2-0 entering the bottom of the eighth.

Bottom 7: Zimmermann finishes with 6 1/3 shutout innings

Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias ends the seventh inning with a splendid defensive play to nail the Royals' Alcides Escobar at first base.

The Tigers lead 2-0.

Tigers right-hander Jordan Zimmermann gave up seven hits in 6 1/3 shutout innings and tossed 105 pitches. He exited with eight strikeouts versus one walk.

Tigers reliever Mark Lowe entered in relief and induced back-to-back ground balls to end the inning. Royals right fielder Jarrod Dyson grounded into a fielder’s choice to put runners on the corners, then Escobar grounded out to Iglesias, who made an off-balanced throw to first.

Royals catcher Salvador Perez belted a one-out, stand-up double off Zimmermann to continue his torrid pace against the Tigers. He’s a .315 career hitter (76-for-241) with nine homers in 67 career games against Detroit. On Tuesday night, Perez had a career high five RBIs as the Royals won the series opener.

Top 7: Tigers cannot add run

The Tigers had two runners on base with no outs — yet could not push across a run.

Detroit leads 2-0 after the top of the seventh.

Jose Iglesias singled to load the bases as Luke Hochevar entered the game in relief for Royals starter Ian Kennedy.

Hochevar struck out Ian Kinsler (89 mph cutter) and Justin Upton flied out to end the inning.

Kennedy, who yielded two earned runs in 6 1/3 innings, struck out seven and walked two. He gave up six hits.

Nick Castellanos singled to start the inning and Jarrod Saltalamacchia walked to put two runners on base with no outs. Anthony Gose tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but Castellanos was thrown out at third base. (Gose is hitting 4-for-21 on the seven-game road trip, thus far).

Bottom 6: Zimmermann shutout continues 

Makes that 19 straight scoreless innings for Tigers’ right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, who holds a 2-0 lead after six innings tonight in Kansas City.

In tonight’s sixth inning, the Royals’ Lorenzo Cain reached base on an infield single with two outs. The ball took an odd hop on the edge of the infield grass as Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias charged it.

From there, Eric Hosmer reached on an error (Zimmermman bobbled a grounder) to advance Cain to second base.

That brought up Kendrys Morales, who set a Royals record in 2015 with 53 two-out RBIs. This time, Morales grounded out to second base to end the inning.

Zimmermann has tossed 97 pitches. He has eight strikeouts versus one walk and has given up five hits.

Ian Kinsler hits an RBI double in the third inning to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead over the Royals.

Top 6: Martinez gets 1,000th RBI

Victor Martinez enters the record books.

Martinez recorded his 1,000th career RBI when he gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead in the top of the sixth.

Martinez becomes the fifth Venezuelan-born player in Major League Baseball history to achieve the feat. He joins teammate Miguel Cabrera (1,449), Andres Galarraga (1,425), Bobby Abreu (1,363) and former Tiger Magglio Ordonez (1,236).

Martinez's RBI single scored Ian Kinsler with two outs. It came off Royals starter Ian Kennedy.

Bottom 5: Zimmermann escapes jam

Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez started the fifth inning with back-to-back singles to put Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann into a jam. But the Tigers right-hander escaped danger and ended the frame without yielding a run, again.

It's 1-0 Tigers after five innings.

That’s 18 straight scoreless innings for Zimmermann. Tonight he’s struck out eight batters and walked one through five innings. He’s thrown 77 pitches and yielded four hits.  

The Royals blew a chance when Omar Infante failed to lay down a sacrifice bunt on two straight attempts, and then struck out looking. (He’s hitting .091 with runners in scoring position entering tonight.)

Here’s how the inning ended: The Royals’ Jarrod Dyson grounded into a fielder’s choice to Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler for the second out of the inning. From there, Perez was caught in a rundown between first and second base, but Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias alertly threw home and the Royals’ Alex Gordon was tagged out by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

In his April 14 start at Pittsburgh, Zimmermann escaped two bases-loaded jams.

Top 5: Kennedy has 6 Ks

Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy (six strikeouts) is trying to match Jordan Zimmermann (seven strikeouts).

Kennedy fanned three straight Tigers batters in the top of the fifth inning. He retired Nick Castellanos (83 mph changeup), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (92 mph two-seam fastball) and Anthony Gose (93 mph four-seam fastball).

Gose slammed his bat in disgust after he whiffed.

Bottom 4: Zimmermann hits 17 scoreless innings

Seventeen scoreless innings. Would you have imagined such a fabulous start to a Tigers career when right-handed pitcher Jordan Zimmermann signed the dotted line for a five-year, $110-million deal?

Zimmermann has seven strikeouts versus one walk tonight. He’s given up two hits in four innings.

In the fourth, the Royals’ Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer struck out swinging, both via an 88 mph slider from Zimmermann.

Kendrys Morales grounded out to end the inning.

The Tigers lead 1-0.

Zimmermann had seven shutout innings against the Yankees (April 8) at Comerica Park, and six scoreless innings at Pittsburgh (April 14) to start his Detroit tenure 2-0.

Top 4: Detroit bats silent

Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy cruised through the fourth.

The Tigers lead 1-0.

Miguel Cabrera grounded out, Victor Martinez flied out and J.D. Martinez grounded out.

Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar made another highlight-reel play, this time he charged J.D. Martinez’s grounder off balanced, and managed to make the throw to first base.

Bottom 3: Zimmermann's streak continues

Tigers right-hander Jordan Zimmermann needed 10 pitches to retire the Royals in the third. His scoreless innings streak is now at 16 innings to begin his Detroit career.

Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas delivered a two-out single, but was picked off first base and caught trying to steal second. 

Jarrod Dyson grounded out and Alcides Escobar popped out to start the third inning.

Top 3: Kinsler puts Tigers ahead

Ian Kinsler’s two-out RBI double scores Jarrod Saltalamacchia to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the third inning.

Kinsler entered tonight second in the America League in hits (19).

The inning started when Saltalamacchia was walked by Royals starter Ian Kennedy. Anthony Gose struck out swinging for the first out of the inning, and Jose Iglesias was thrown out at second base when he tried to extend a single to a double.

Justin Upton ended the inning when he popped out to Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar, who made a running, over-the-head catch. Upton is now 4-for-28 (.143) on the Tigers’ seven-game road trip, thus far.

Bottom 2: Zimmermann 5 Ks 

Tigers right-hander Jordan Zimmermann has five strikeouts through two innings and extended his scoreless inning streak to 15.

Zimmermann struck out three batters in the second inning, although he need 29 pitches.

The inning began when Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer singled past Miguel Cabrera to extend his hitting streak to 10 games (14-for-39, .358 average). That’s 22 straight regular season games Hosmer has reached base.

From there, designated hitter Kendrys Morales struck out swinging (81 mph curveball) and left fielder Alex Gordon struck out (93 mph, four-seam fastball), which extends his steak to 14 straight games with a strikeout.

With two outs in the inning, Royals catcher Salvador Perez walked.

Omar Infante, a former Tiger, struck out to end the inning (89 mph slider). 

Top 2: Six up, six down for Kennedy

That’s six up, six down for Royals starter Ian Kennedy, who has two strikeouts through two innings.

It’s 0-0 in Kansas City. 

Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez fouled out, right fielder J.D. Martinez struck out swinging, and third baseman Nick Castellanos flied out.

Castellanos entered the game fifth in the American League in batting (.357).

Bottom 1: Zimmermann needs 11 pitches

Make that 14 straight scoreless innings for Tigers right-hander Jordan Zimmermann. He needed 11 pitches to retire the Kansas City batters 1-2-3. Two were strikeouts.

Shortstop Alcides Escobar struck out, third baseman Mike Moustakas flied out to left field and center fielder Lorenzo Cain struck out.

Upton entered tonight with an errorless streak of 132 straight games.

The last time a Tigers starter had 13 straight scoreless innings to begin his Detroit career was Mike Maroth in 2002, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Top 1: Kennedy cruises 

Kansas City right-hander Ian Kennedy retired the Tigers 1-2-3 in the top of the first.

Ian Kinsler flied out to center field on his first pitch, Justin Upton struck out looking and Miguel Cabrera grounded out.

Detroit bats in 1st

Kansas City right-hander Ian Kennedy brings a 2-0 record and 0.66 ERA to the mound as he faces the top of the Tigers order.

It’s second baseman Ian Kinsler leading off, followed by left fielder Justin Upton and first baseman Miguel Cabrera.

Kennedy started the season with 12.2 scoreless innings. It was the longest streak by a Kansas City starter in seven years (2009, Zack Grienke, 24.0 innings).

How to watch: Tigers vs. Royals

The Tigers will try to even the series with the American League Central Division rival Royals Wednesday after an 8-6 drubbing Tuesday.

After spotting the Royals a five-run lead, the Tigers fought back only to fall behind 8-2 later. In the seventh, Jarrod Saltalamacchia clubbed a three-run homer to pull the Tigers to within three, 8-5. The blast was Saltalamacchia’s third in three games and fifth of the season.

The Tigers loaded the bases in the eighth but only managed one run when Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera hit Victor Martinez in the kneecap with a pitch, which forced in Jose Iglesias who’d singled.

Martinez, who was writhing in pain after being hit, managed to walk to first but was replaced by pinch-runner Andrew Romine. The designated hitter said he was OK afterward.

Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (2-0, 0.00) will make his third start for the Tigers. He’s been lights-out in his first two starts, pitching six scoreless innings on six hits, two walks and four strikeouts while in his last outing against the Pirates April 14.

TIGERS LINEUP

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B

2. Justin Upton, LF

3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B

4. Victor Martinez, DH

5. J.D. Martinez, RF

6. Nick Castellanos, 3B

7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

8. Anthony Gose, CF

9. Jose Iglesias, SS

SP - Jordan Zimmermann (2-0, 0.00)

ROYALS LINEUP

1. Alcides Escobar, SS

2. Mike Moustakas, 3B

3. Lorenzo Cain, CF

4. Eric Hosmer, 1B

5. Kendrys Morales, DH

6. Alex Gordon, LF

7. Salvador Perez, C

8. Omar Infante, 2B

9. Jarrod Dyson, RF

SP - Ian Kennedy (2-0, 0.66)

Tigers vs. Royals

What: Second of a three-game series

When: Wednesday, 7:10 p.m.

Where: Kauffman Stadium.

Local TV: FSD+

National TV: ESPN (blacked out in Detroit market)

Internet streaming: MLB.TV (subscription required)

Local radio: 97.1

Satellite radio: SIRI 181 (Internet SIRI 851, home; SIRI Internet 849, away)