Alex Gordon’s grand slam capped a five-run top of the 10th inning that propelled the Kansas City Royals to an 8-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
Gordon finished with a pair of hits, while Billy Butler went 3-for-3 with an RBI single to help the Royals bounce back from a 7-5 loss in Wednesday’s opener of the rain-shortened two-game series. Lorenzo Cain ended 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored in the triumph, Kansas City’s third in four games overall.
Tim Collins (1-0) picked up the win after striking out two while tossing a perfect bottom of the ninth in relief of James Shields, who allowed three runs on five hits over the first eight frames.
Detroit ace Justin Verlander was in line for his third victory of the season after limiting the Royals to two runs — one earned — before exiting after seven innings due to cracked skin in his right thumb. However, the Royals tied the game with a run off replacement Bruce Rondon in the eighth, then struck five times against the combo of Phil Coke (0-3) and Darin Downs in the 10th.
“I noticed it after my last start and it wasn’t too bad,” Verlander said. “It started getting a little bit worse after the fifth (inning). I started noticing it and after the seventh, I talked to our pitching coach, and we kind of came to a joint decision. At this point in the year, there’s no point in creating something that possibly could become a nagging issue, so we just made the decision to call it a day.”
Torii Hunter went 2-for-4 with an RBI single for the Tigers, losers in five of their last six outings.
The Royals trailed 3-2 heading into the eighth when Butler greeted Rondon — making his major league debut — with a single. He was lifted for pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson, who promptly stole second and took third on a groundout prior to scoring the tying run on Cain’s sacrifice fly to center.
“Generally I don’t like to pinch-run for Billy in the eighth, but I knew we had to take the opportunity right there to at least tie the game,” explained Royals manager Ned Yost of the decision to insert Dyson.
After Shields and Collins both retired the side in order over the next two innings, the Royals broke the game open in the 10th.
Cain began the outburst with a one-out double off Coke, who walked the next three batters in succession to bring in the go-ahead score. Downs came in and got Chris Getz to bounce into a fielder’s choice that forced out a runner going home, but Gordon tagged a 2-1 pitch from the lefty over the wall in straightaway center to stake Kansas City to an 8-3 lead.
“Honestly, I had three punch-outs on the day and I was just trying to make contact,” said Gordon. “Sometimes that’s what happens.”
Greg Holland then closed out the contest with a 1-2-3 bottom of the 10th.
Shields’ day began by surrendering an opposite-field double to Austin Jackson in the bottom of the first, with Miguel Cabrera singling in the Tigers’ leadoff man two batters later for a 1-0 edge.
The Royals went ahead with single runs in the third and fourth, however.
Alcides Escobar reached on a two-out base hit in the third, then stole second before coming home on Butler’s single to right to tie the score. After singles by Cain and Jeff Francoeur put runners on the corners with one out in the fourth, Salvador Perez lofted a fly ball that enabled Cain to cross the plate for a 2-1 advantage.
Detroit capitalized on a bout of wildness from Shields to draw even in its half of the fourth. The Kansas City starter issued a leadoff walk to Prince Fielder and uncorked a pair of wild pitches to send the Tigers’ first baseman to third. Fielder then beat Cain’s throw home on a fly ball off the bat of Jhonny Peralta to knot the contest at 2-2.
Shields also walked Jackson after an Omar Infante single an inning later, with Hunter coming through with an RBI hit to left to send the Tigers in front.