Royals sweep Tigers, Sanchez's no-hit bid ends in 7th
Detroit – Well, how’s that for a kick in the pants?
The Tigers went from a serious no-hit watch to seeing their playoff hopes flicker in less than two innings – brutal.
Eric Hosmer ended Anibal Sanchez’s no-hit bit with a two-out double in the seventh, then, after Alex Gordon hit the first pitch from left-handed reliever Justin Wilson into the seats in right field leading off the eighth to tie the game 1-1, Hosmer belted a two-run homer off Shane Greene in the top of the ninth.
Royals 4, Tigers 1. It was the first time the Royals swept a series in Detroit since 2008.
BOX SCORE: Royals 4, Tigers 1
The Tigers are six games behind the Indians in the Central Division and four games out of a wildcard spot.
“Really, I don’t look at the standings that often,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “I try to win on a daily basis. You lose, you move on to the next game. I couldn’t even tell you how many games we are behind Cleveland. I know the gap is wide because we haven’t played well lately.
“But we have 40-something games left. I’ll worry about it when we get a little bit closer.”
The bigger worry is his offense, which, absent some key hitters (Nick Castellanos and Cameron Maybin on the disabled list), has gone dormant. In the last 27 innings, the Tigers have mustered three runs, all on solo home runs.
The single run Wednesday night was provided by Victor Martinez, who clubbed his 22nd home run in the second inning off Yordano Ventura, who was far from sharp.
“They come up with a couple of clutch hits at the back end of the game and they won, simple as that. They just outhit us,” Ausmus said. “It was the difference in the game when you leave runners in scoring position.”
The Tigers left nine men on base in the game, six in scoring position. They were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Miguel Cabrera, who is playing through a left biceps strain, stranded four.
“It bothers him when he swings and misses, but I don’t think it bothers him when he makes contact,” Ausmus said. “I talked to him just now. He said he was good to go tomorrow but we’ll re-evaluate him, I’ll talk to him again tomorrow to see how he is.”
The Tigers loaded the bases without a hit in the seventh inning, chasing Ventura from the game. James McCann struck out but reached when the ball got by catcher Drew Butera. Ian Kinsler was hit with a pitch and Erick Aybar, in his first start with the Tigers, was safe on an error by third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert.
But Cabrera, facing left-handed reliever Matt Strahm, grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
“It’s tough to lose a game when anybody pitches like that,” Ausmus said. “We got some chances and they just came up with some clutch hits. We struggled to get that big hit.”
Sanchez struck out eight and left the game to a standing ovation with a 1-0 lead after finishing the seventh inning.
“I threw a good game today,” Sanchez said. “I tried to do my best in every outing. Today, everything’s coming out good. At the end, it’s better when you pitch good and the team wins. We need some wins for the team.”
One pitch from Justin Wilson and it was all for naught. It was a 95 mph fastball that Gordon ambushed to tie the game.
Wilson hadn’t pitched in seven days after getting a cortisone shot in his elbow.
“His velocity was there,” Ausmus said. “I think Gordon was just sitting first-pitch and one got a little bit elevated and he jumped on it.”
Greene, who has been pitching through a posterior oblique strain, left a cutter too much over the plate to Hosmer in the ninth.
“Physically I was good,” Greene said. “Seriously, I was good. I made a bad pitch to a good hitter. It happens. It was a cutter. I tried to get too perfect with it. I think he might've been cheating a little bit and he got me.”
He is still taking daily treatment on the oblique.
“Yeah, but everything is feeling pretty good,” he said. “I'm not going to say it's perfect but it's doable. That has nothing to do with what happened tonight. I've been pitching with it for a couple of weeks. I'll be all right and so will the team.”
Will it? The injuries keep coming.
Tyler Collins, who started in left field, was hit on the knee by a 99 mph fastball from Ventura in the sixth inning. He stayed in for another half-inning, but was replaced in the seventh by Justin Upton.
X-rays were negative and the Tigers called it a right knee contusion, listing him as day to day.
The Tigers sent outfielder Steven Moya back to Toledo after the game and Ausmus said a corresponding move would be announced in the morning.
Outfielder Alex Presley was pulled from the game in Toledo soon after Collins went out, so he could be getting the call.
“I’m not whining about it,” Ausmus said. “We have another game tomorrow.”
They are getting somewhat of a break. The Red Sox and Tigers play at 1:10 p.m. Thursday and the Red Sox game in Baltimore was in a long rain delay Wednesday night.
“We just have to win games,” Ausmus said. “I don't care what uniform you wear. I don't care who comes to town or if we go into their town -- we have to find a way to win games. Right now, we're finding a way to not win games.”