Whit Merrifield hit an 0-2 pitch down the right field line for a double to lead off the game. Adalberto Mondesi moved him to third with a ground out to first. Alex Gordon knocked in Merrifield with a one-out ground out to first base to give the Royals a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. That should be enough, right?
Brad Keller struggled with control in the bottom of the second. A couple of walks and a triple gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
The Tigers added a run in the sixth inning on a two out base hit by Christin Stewart to score Nick Castellanos from third. Castellanos led off the inning with a double to right-center and advanced to third on a base hit by Miguel Cabrera. After six innings the Tigers had a 3-1 lead.
Tigers’ catcher John Hicks controlled the Royals’ running game. Hicks made a perfect throw to get Billy Hamilton trying to steal second base in the fifth inning. He then threw out Whit Merrifield trying to steal second base in the seventh inning to put the tying run in scoring position.
The Royals bullpen was much better today. Of course, they were not pitching in a tie or lead. The Royals were down two runs which takes a little of the pressure off. Can they pitch this way when they are trying to keep a lead or keep a game tied for the offense to win the game? That remains to be seen.
The pitching did its job today but the offense could only manage to put up one run. The Royals lose 3-1.
Whit Merrifield [3-for-4, R, 2B, SB, CS]
Whit extended his hitting streak in his first at bat Sunday. He took an 0-2 count to right field for a double. It gets old saying it but Whit continues to hit well. Three more hits Sunday for Whit is almost expected.
Adalberto Mondesi [0-for-4, 2 K]
Mondesi has recently started to struggle hitting breaking balls. The Tigers have been showing a lot of breaking balls to him in this series and he has not looked good at all trying to hit them. He can expect to see more breaking balls until he starts hitting them hard like he has been hitting fastballs. I would not give him a fastball at this time.
Jorge Soler [0-for-4, 3 K]
Soler hit a rocket line drive in the first but was robbed of a hit by a great diving catch by Tigers’ shortstop Jordy Mercer. Soler entered the game with a .296 average and a .900 OPS. He looks to be having a breakout season.
As well as Soler has been hitting early in the season, he just can’t lay off the breaking ball down and away. With a 2-2 pitch in the ninth everyone knew a low and away breaking ball would be coming to Soler. He swung and missed for the strikeout. When he can recognize that pitch and lay off of it he will be a very dangerous hitter.
Soler made a perfect throw home on a fly out by Niko Goodrum to keep Nick Castellanos from tagging at third and scoring.
Billy Hamilton [3-for-3, SB, CS]
Hamilton is having some good plate appearances lately. He has a plan when he approaches the plate and is looking to just get on base and use his speed. The lineup works well when Hamilton is getting on base in front of Whit Merrifield. Of course, it led to just one run today, but it will pay off in the long run more than it won’t.
Brad Keller [L, 50 GS, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 109 P, 68 S (62%), 1.33 WHIP]
Keller did not have his usual control and therefore was not as efficient as he had been in his first start. After struggling in the first inning he settled down and pitched well until he ran into trouble in the sixth and allowed up an insurance run to Detroit.
Jake Diekman [IP, K, 17P, 12 S (71%), 0.00 WHIP]
Diekman provided a nice change for the Royals in a seventh inning pitched by a reliever. The seventh inning has been extremely difficult for the bullpen early in the season. Diekman hit Gordon Beckham to lead off the inning but retired the next three for a scoreless seventh inning.
Brad Boxberger [IP, BB, 3 K, 20 P, 12 S (60%), 1.00 WHIP]
Boxberger struck out the side in the eighth inning Sunday. He did walk one batter but this was a huge improvement. Again, let’s see how he performs in a tight situation.