Tigers' bats quelled in loss to Royals; Cabrera among wounded
Detroit — Enough, already.
Already down three starting position players and two members of the rotation, the Tigers lost Miguel Cabrera in the top of the fifth inning Monday to a left biceps strain. The club is listing his status as day to day, but the Tigers are running out of bandages.
“We’ll come back tomorrow,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “You can’t do anything about it. Injuries are a part of the game, and we’re not going to bury our faces in our hand. We have another game tomorrow.”
The Royals, who have had their fair share of injuries this season, as well, weren’t the least bit sympathetic. They happily handled the depleted Tigers, 3-1 in the first of a three-game set.
BOX SCORE: Royals 3, Tigers 1
“Obviously, you don’t want to see anybody go down, especially this time of year,” said third baseman Casey McGehee, one of three replacement starters up from Triple A Toledo. “But at the same time, we all have the belief that the guys in this clubhouse can pick up the slack. It’s not going to be one guy doing all the work. It’s going to take a collective effort … It’s going to take everybody doing their job to make up the difference.”
Cabrera was involved in a slight collision at first base in the first inning with Royals' Cheslor Cuthbert.
Cuthbert hit a ball up the middle that Tigers’ starter Daniel Norris knocked down and then made a rushed and errant throw to first. Cabrera came off the bag to stop the ball and his left arm got caught up with the speeding Cuthbert.
“I don’t expect it to be long-term,” Ausmus said. “It wouldn't surprise me if Miggy said he was fine tomorrow. But we'll wait and see what he feels like tomorrow.”
Cabrera stayed in the game for four innings. He walked and flew out to center field in his two at-bats. Jarrod Saltalamacchia replaced him at first base in the fifth.
“I couldn't tell when it happened; I found out at some point,” Ausmus said. “I think (trainer) Kevin Rand made me aware of it after Miggy came in, but he said he wanted to try and hit, see if it bothered him.
“I guess he had this happen to him in Florida one time, very similar."
Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy stifled the Tigers on five hits in 6⅔ innings. J.D. Martinez’s 16th home run, a missile into the visitor’s bullpen in the seventh, was all the damage he allowed.
“Man, he was staying out of the middle of the plate pretty good,” said McGehee, who had two of the five hits off Kennedy. “Pitches just above the zone, just out of the zone. When he was in the zone he wasn't really in the fat part of the plate too often. He had just enough mix to keep you off balance.
“Ian's been doing this a long time. His stuff has changed over the years a little bit, here and there, but the one thing that's stayed consistent, he locates his pitches pretty good. When he's able to execute his game plan, he's going to be pretty successful."
It was Kennedy’s first win over the Tigers in six career starts.
The Tigers missed a chance to gain a game on the Indians, who were defeated by Boston — the team the Tigers are chasing for the final wild card spot. They are five back of the Indians in the Central Division and 2.5 back of the Red Sox.
Norris pitched creditably, if not efficiently, for the Tigers, allowing one earned and one unearned run and walking four in 5⅓ innings.
“That’s probably the worst I felt on the mound in a long time, as far as mechanics and feeling the ball in my hand,” Norris said. “I was just hoping I could iron things out and keep us in the game for as long as I could.
“It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the problem was. Just from the get-go I kind of felt out of sync.”
His throwing error on Cuthbert set up a sacrifice fly by Eric Hosmer in the first.
The second run came in the sixth and was aided by a wild pitch and his fourth walk of the game.
Alex Gordon, one of just two left-handed hitters in the Royals lineup who had two hits and a walk off Norris, doubled with one out and went to third on the wild pitch.
Alex Wilson took over with runners on first and third and one out.
Raul Mondesi drove in Gordon with a bunt single – a ball that Saltalamacchia fielded but hesitated and threw late to first.
Wilson ended the inning by getting Paulo Orlando to hit into a 5-4-3 double play.
Wilson pitched the seventh inning, as well, running his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 15⅔.
The Royals scored their third run on a two-out RBI single by Lorenzo Cain off Blaine Hardy in the top of the ninth.
The Tigers managed just three singles against Kennedy through six innings. No runner got to second base until Martinez’s blast in the seventh.
The Tigers did put the tying run on second base in that seventh inning. McGehee chased Kennedy from the game with his second single, then James McCann greeted reliever Peter Moylan with an infield hit.
With two outs, Mike Aviles batted for Dixon Machado and, after a lengthy battle, popped out to first.
“I liked him better at the time,” Ausmus said when asked why he chose Aviles over Andrew Romine in that situation. “I thought he was the guy that I wanted to hit.”
Joakim Soria and closer Kelvin Herrera shut the Tigers down in the eighth and ninth, respectively.
The Tigers finished the game with McGehee at third (in place of Nick Castellanos), Machado at short (in place of Jose Iglesias), Saltalamacchia at first and Tyler Collins in center (for Cameron Maybin).
Norris has been inserted into the rotation to replace either Jordan Zimmermann or Mike Pelfrey, take your pick.
It’s not ideal.
“Just keep plugging away,” Ausmus said. “You can't really worry about it. Guys are going to get injured. But you got to forget about it pretty quickly because you got another game the next day.”