The Tigers’ offense couldn’t get anything going on Tuesday night as the Royals pulled out a 3-1 victory at Comerica Park.
In fact, the Tigers (45-54) threatened multiple times, including a bases-loaded situation in the seventh, but couldn’t seem to drive in runners in scoring position.
Victor Martinez had a solid game for the Tigers, though, leading the way with two hits and a walk. He would have had an RBI, but Mikie Mahtook made a major base-running gaffe in the eighth which cost him a sacrifice fly.
At least the ace was there to pick up the slack, but Michael Fulmer's eight-inning start was all for naught as he got the loss.
Coming off his worst start of the season, Fulmer got off to a shaky start against the Royals. He allowed a leadoff home run, but settled down shortly after, striking out four straight batters.
Fulmer pitched seven full innings, allowing eight hits and three earned runs while striking out six, but the Tigers’ offense couldn’t help him out.
The Royals (52-47), on the other hand, remained hot. The victory on Tuesday night marked their seventh in a row and four of those have come against the Tigers. They’re graining ground in the division race while Detroit is dropping like a rock.
Danny Duffy (6 1/3 innings) got the win for the Royals, allowing just one earned on six hits while striking out four. Kelvin Herrera recorded save No. 21 with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
The top of the order, Whit Merrifield and Jorge Bonifacio, paced all Royals hitters, each going 2-for-4 but the former hit a leadoff home run in the first to set the tone.
Detroit has now lost 5-of-7 after their four-game win streak right after the All-Star Break.
Taking the mound in Wednesday evening's finale of the three-game set will be Anibal Sanchez (2-0, 5.95 ERA) for the Tigers and Ian Kennedy (3-6, 4.61) for the Royals.
Bottom 9th: Royals 3, Tigers 1
Kelvin Herrera entered the game for the Royals, looking for the save.
Alex Presley came into the game as a pinch hitter for James McCann and grounded out to short. Alex Avila also came in as a pinch hitter for Andrew Romine and he struck out swinging. Jose Iglesias ended the game by flying out to left.
Top 9th: Royals 3, Tigers 1
Daniel Stumpf relieved Michael Fulmer to start the ninth.
Drew Butera popped out to left field to start the inning, Mike Moustakas popped out to short and Brandon Moss flew out softly to left to end the top half.
Bottom 8th: Royals 3, Tigers 1
Joakim Soria, a former Tiger reliever, entered the game for the Royals.
The first batter to face Soria, Justin Upton, singled through the left side of the infield on a line drive. Miguel Cabrera then hit a tricky grounder to the middle of the infield and Whit Merrifield couldn't get him at first as he reached with a single.
Mikie Mahtook hit a soft grounder to second and the Royals got the out at second on a fielder's choice. With runners at first and third and one out, Victor Martinez hit a sacrifice fly, or so it seemed, scoring Upton, but Mahtook made a major running error, running on the hit. He was forced out at first and the run didn't count.
Top 8th: Royals 3, Tigers 1
Looking to pitch eight full innings, Michael Fulmer took the mound again in the eighth with a respectable pitch count.
Whit Merrifield struck out swinging to start the inning. It was Fulmer's first punchout since the second inning. Jorge Bonifacio lined sharply up the middle with out one.
Lorenzo Cain swung on a pitch out of the zone for strike three and the second out. Eric Hosmer popped out softly to Jose Iglesias to end the inning.
Bottom 7th: Royals 3, Tigers 1
Victor Martinez breathed some life into the offense with a leadoff double. Unfortunately James McCann couldn't drive him in as he struck out on a controversial call. Andrew Romine then drove Danny Duffy out of the game with a single to right, but Martinez didn't even attempt to score.
Peter Moylan entered the game in relief for the Royals.
Jose Iglesias grounded out softly back to the pitcher, moving Romine over to second with two outs. Ian Kinsler was then intentionally walked. Nick Castellanos grounded to short to end the bases loaded threat.
Top 7th: Royals 3, Tigers 1
Michael Fulmer looked to finish the game off on a high note.
Mike Moustakas flew out to right for a quick first out, but Brandon Moss singled on a line drive in the next at-bat. Alcides Escobar looked to end the top of the inning, giving Fulmer a chance to pitch the eighth, by lining into a double play, but Moss was originally ruled out at first, but the call was overturned.
Alex Gordon grounded out to end the inning.
Bottom 6th: Royals 3, Tigers 1
Justin Upton couldn't get himself into a groove, striking out to open the home half of the sixth. Miguel Cabrera's slump continued as he grounded out to short. Mikie Mahtook ended the 1-2-3 inning with a flyout to center.
Top 6th: Royals 3, Tigers 1
Lorenzo Cain grounded out to second, Eric Hosmer flew out to left and Drew Butera came in as a pinch-hitter, grounding into the shift for a quick top half of the sixth.
Bottom 5th: Royals 3, Tigers 1
The offense couldn't get anything going offensively, once again, in the fifth.
Jose Iglesias grounded out to short, Ian Kinsler flew out to right and Nick Castellanos struck out swinging.
Top 5th: Royals 3, Tigers 1
Michael Fulmer needed a rebound inning after a long fourth.
Alcides Escobar and Alex Gordon recorded two quick outs to help out, lining out and grounding out, respectively. However, Whit Merrifield singled to center before Jorge Bonifacio grounded out to end the top half.
Bottom 4th: Royals 3, Tigers 1
Justin Upton didn't wait long to get the Tigers their first out, flying out to left on the first pitch. Miguel Cabrera then popped out to center.
Mikie Mahtook hit a hustle triple into the left center field gap and then Victor Martinez walked with two outs.
James McCann worked a 3-0 count and then swung on the fourth pitch, singling to center and plating the Tigers' first run. Andrew Romine flew out to short left to end the inning.
Top 4th: Royals 3, Tigers 0
The Royals got their first leadoff hit since the first-inning home run by Whit Merrifield.
Jorge Bonifacio singled on a line drive to left and it looked like Lorenzo Cain hit another single, but the Tigers challenged the infield hit and it was overturned.
Eric Hosmer then singled sharply up the middle, scoring Bonifacio. Salvador Perez then hit a single off the glove of Nick Castellanos at third and Hosmer advanced all the way to third. Mike Moustakas hit a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to three.
Brandon Moss ended the inning with a harmless groundout to first.
Bottom 3rd: Royals 1, Tigers 0
Jose Iglesias kicked things off by popping out to first. Alex Gordon then made a sprawling catch down the left field line to rob Ian Kinsler of a hit. Nick Castellanos flew out to right field to end a quick third.
Top 3rd: Royals 1, Tigers 0
Alcides Escobar grounded out softly to Michael Fulmer to start the inning, marking seven straight outs. Alex Gordon ended the streak with a single to center, but the next batter, Whit Merrifield, grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Bottom 2nd: Royals 1, Tigers 0
Miguel Cabrera looked to break his slump, leading off the home half of the second. He followed through by hitting a bloop single to right center.
Mikie Mahtook flew out to center. Victor Martinez picked him up by singling through the middle to put runners on first and second with one out. James McCann lined out to center and Miguel Cabrera advanced to third. Andrew Romine ended the inning with a groundout.
Top 2nd: Royals 1, Tigers 0
Michael Fulmer picked up right where he left off at the end of the first.
Salvador Perez struck out swinging, Mike Moustakas grounded a ball down the first base line and it rolled back fair as Miguel Cabrera stepped on the bag for the second out. Brandon Moss then grounded back to Fulmer who tipped the ball off his glove to Nick Castellanos who threw to first for the final out.
Bottom 1st: Royals 1, Tigers 0
The bottom of the first didn't start much better for the Tigers.
Ian Kinsler popped out in two pitches to the catches and Nick Castellanos flew out to center for two quick outs. Justin Upton then promptly struck out.
Top 1st: Royals 1, Tigers 0
Michael Fulmer entered the game coming off his worst start of the year, allowing eight runs, five earned.
Things didn't look much better early as he surrendered a leadoff home run to Whit Merrifield. Jorge Bonifacio followed that up with a swinging strikeout.
Lorenzo Cain also struck out swinging on four pitches and Eric Hosmer followed suit.
The Tigers continue their seven-game home stand with the second of a four-game series with the AL Central rival Royals Tuesday at Comerica Park. First pitch is 7:10.
Kansas City took the opener 5-3 in 12 innings on a pair of solo home runs by Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas off reliever Drew VerHagen. The Tigers rallied to tie it 3-all in the bottom of the sixth on Alex Avila's two-run single.
Justin Verlander gave up three earned runs, including a home run by Jorge Bonficacio in the sixth, on five hits while striking out nine and walking two in seven innings, leaving many to speculate whether it was the right-handed ace's last outing in a Tigers' uniform.
Right-hander Michael Fulmer starts for the Tigers. The All-Star will seek to rebound from a rare bad outing when he allowed eights (five earned) on seven hits, one walk and two strikeouts while lasting only 2⅔ innings in a 16-4 loss to the Royals in Kansas City last week.
1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. Nick Castellanos, 3B
3. Justin Upton, LF
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
5. Mikie Mahtook, CF
6. Victor Martinez, DH
7. James McCann, C
8. Andrew Romine, RF
9. Jose Iglesias, SS
Michael Fulmer, SP
1. Whit Merrifield, 2B
2. Jorge Bonifacio, RF
3. Lorenzo Cain, CF
4. Eric Hosmer, 1B
5. Salvador Perez, C
6. Mike Moustakas, 3B
7. Brandon Moss, DH
8. Alcides Escobar, SS
9. Alex Gordon, LF
Danny Duffy, SP
Tigers vs. Royals
First pitch: 7:10, Comerica Park, Detroit
Pitchers: Tigers, RHP Michael Fulmer, 10-7. 3.35; Royals, LHP Danny Duffy, 5-4, 4.26
Records: The Tigers are 45-53, in fourth place and 7.5 games behind the first-place Indians in the AL Central. The Royals are 51-47, in second place in the AL Central and 1.5 games behind the Indians.