Tigers can't solve Royals' Bubic again; 7-game win streak halted

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Kansas City, Mo. — All good things come to an end. But maybe another positive is developing for the Tigers. 

The Kansas City Royals snapped the Tigers' seven-game winning streak with a 5-3 win at Kauffman Stadium on Friday night. 

The Royals' Hunter Dozier slides into home to score against Tigers catcher Eric Haase.

"They beat us at the game tonight," manager AJ Hinch said. "They won the big at-bats on both sides of the ball and when you do that you usually end up winning the game."

Something may be cooking with second baseman Willi Castro, though. Demoted to Triple-A Toledo after going 5 for 31 with 13 strikeouts leading into the All-Star break, he's come back with a vengeance. 

He tripled in his first at-bat back on Thursday, and on Friday he got two more hits including his seventh home run  — a 424-footer.

"He's been very comfortable since he's gotten back," Hinch said. "Hopefully the send-down just allowed him to take a deep breath and collect himself. Those who were here last year all tell me, when he gets hot it's something to see.

"Maybe this is the catalyst."

Castro jumped a first-pitch fastball off Royals lefty starter Kris Bubic and sent it into the seats in left-center in the third inning. He singled and scored in the seventh. 

"I had a lot of stuff in my head," Castro said of his pre-break struggles. "Going down (to Toledo), I think it was good. They do stuff to get us better. It was good for me to go down there and get my mind right. 

"I feel really good."

Castro said he was surprised, but not really shocked that he was sent down.

"Every player goes through this," he said. "They go back down to get their stuff together. I felt good down there and I came back to do whatever I can to help the team win ... I never lost my confidence. I know the kind of player I am.

"Every day I come to compete."

Tigers starter Wily Peralta had allowed one earned run in 26.2 innings coming into his start Friday night. He gave up three in one fatal swing. 

After breezing through the first two innings, on just 19 pitches, Peralta suddenly stopped commanding the strike zone. He fell behind a string of eight straight batters in the third and fourth innings — and he ultimately paid for it.

"Before when I fell behind, I made quality pitches," Peralta said. "Tonight I just left it right down the middle. They are good hitters. You can't pitch from behind all the time."

A lead-off walk to Hunter Dozier in the third came around to score on a two-out single by Whit Merrifield. Then, with two on and one out in the fourth, he fell behind Ryan O’Hearn 2-0. Peralta stuck out O’Hearn with back-to-back split-changeups in the second inning. In a 2-0 hole, though, he had to challenge him with a fastball.

"I fell behind and I got to pay," Peralta said. 

O’Hearn sent the 94-mph heater into the waterfalls beyond the left-center field wall, breaking a 1-1 tie and sending the Royals on their way.

BOX SCORE: Royals 5, Tigers 3

Carlos Santana added a solo home run in the fifth.

The Tigers didn’t do much against Bubic, again. It’s the third time they’ve faced him and they’d managed just two runs in 10 innings off him in the first two.

Castro's homer was the only run Bubic surrendered Friday night.

They had him on the ropes a couple of times, though. Both times, he escaped trouble at the expense of Tigers rookie shortstop Zack Short.

With runners on the corner and one out in the fourth, Royals third baseman Hunter Dozier made a sparkling backhanded play of a Short ground ball and started a 5-4-3 double-play.

In the sixth inning, the Tigers loaded the bases with one out. Bubic got Short to bounce into a 6-4-3 double-play this time. Short stranded five runners in those two at-bats.

"It's the big leagues, it's tough up here, man," Hinch said. "It's not going to crush his soul. It's just going to make him better. Zack Short is a really good baseball player. He just got beat at baseball tonight."

The Tigers broke through against reliever Kyle Zimmer, and Zimmer aided in his own demise. He walked No. 9 hitter Derek Hill (who had two hits in his previous at-bats) and then threw two wild pitches. Castro scored on the second one.

Jonathan Schoop, whose single in the sixth extended his career-long hitting streak to 13 games, singled Hill home to cut the deficit to 5-3.  

Lefties Derek Holland (four straight outs) and Daniel Norris (scoreless eighth, punching out Salvador Perez and Andrew Benintendi with 95-mph fastballs) kept the deficit slim. But the Tigers couldn't dent the back end of the Royals bullpen. 

Scott Barlow retired all four hitters he faced and veteran Greg Holland set the Tigers down in order in the ninth.


Twitter: @cmccosky