Royals fall to rallying Tigers in capper
Kansas City drops its 13th consecutive outing
KANSAS CITY -- It was too good to be true.
Six runs and seven hits -- including back-to-back-to-back home runs -- in the first inning? This certainly wasn't the Kansas City Royals. Clubs that lose 12 games in a row a month after snapping an 11-game skid shouldn't be capable of such outbursts.
Even though it went against their recent nature, the Royals erupted early against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday afternoon, sending the assemblage of 11,488 at Kauffman Stadium into a momentary frenzy.
There was cheering. There was jumping. There was hope.
And then the second inning began.
Detroit quickly cut the deficit in half and kept plugging away for the rest of the afternoon. In the end, the Tigers left town with a 13-8 victory and a four-game series sweep. Kansas City has now lost a season-high 13 consecutive games.
"It's pretty much the same thing every night," manager Buddy Bell said.
Things seemed far less bleak for the Royals earlier in the afternoon. They looked determined to end their futility in style in the first inning. Esteban German recorded two of his three hits. Emil Brown and Reggie Sanders doubled and three consecutive home runs, by Tony Graffanino, Angel Berroa and Doug Mientkiewicz, were the exclamation mark.
Detroit left-hander Mike Maroth, who was 5-2 with a 2.45 ERA entering the game, absorbed all the damage while only recording one out.
"We felt good," Mientkiewicz said. "We knocked out a pretty darned good pitcher."
Added Bell: "It was nice to see some smiles in the dugout for a change."
Daniel Powter's song "You Had a Bad Day" blared from the stadium sound system as the lanky Maroth walked off the mound and into the dugout, giving way to reliever Ramon Colon.
While the tune's refrain certainly captured his outing succinctly -- it was later revealed that Maroth had a sore elbow -- it also ended up proving prophetic for the 10-35 Royals, not to mention home plate umpire Chuck Meriwether. Meriwether was struck just below his chest protector by a Colon pitch in the second inning. In the fourth, he took a foul ball off the bat of Detroit's Marcus Thames in roughly the same area.
Unlike the Royals, however, Meriwether was able to roll with the punches.
Right-hander Denny Bautista walked two and hit a batter in the second inning to help put the Tigers back in the game. He allowed four walks in 3 2/3 innings and yielded the first of two home runs by Thames.
"Denny couldn't find the plate," Bell said. "His mechanics were all over the place."
Bautista exited with a mess on his hands -- two on and two out with Detroit cleanup hitter Carlos Guillen at the plate. Righty Bobby Keppel, in his Major League debut, induced a ground ball to end the threat.
He was in line for the victory when he left in the eighth inning with the Royals leading, 8-5. He allowed two hits and one run in 3 1/3 innings, striking out four and walking one. Keppel's parents and several friends had driven up from his native St. Louis to see him play. They joined the crowd to give Keppel a standing ovation as he left the game.
"That was amazing," Keppel said. "I can't ask for more from the fans today. To get that kind of response walking off the field, I never imagined that would happen."
Equally tough to fathom was what took place next.
Ambiorix Burgos relieved Keppel and got the first two hitters he faced to fly out to center field. He had Curtis Granderson behind in the count, 0-2, before allowing a single.
"Oh and two, two outs. My goodness, you've got to put it away then," Bell said.
The next three hitters after Granderson all reached base. Ivan Rodriguez's two-run triple tied the game and triggered the spectators' about-face. Boos, not cheers became the order of the day.
Rodriguez struck again an inning later, hitting the last of three home runs off Elmer Dessens (2-5) to punctuate a five-run ninth. Joel Zumaya (3-0) retired the Royals in the bottom half, helping Detroit to its sixth straight victory.
The Tigers have won all eight meetings with the Royals this season.
"It's unbelievable," Dessens said. "They're pretty hot and they're swinging the bats pretty good. You have to make the pitches down on the corner to be successful."
About the only solace that fans could take from the afternoon was the Royals' 14 hits. As part of a promotion with Krispy Kreme, fans receive a dozen free donuts whenever Kansas City records more than 12 hits in a game.
"A loss is a loss," Mientkiewicz said. "You kind of run out of things to say."
Kevin Druley is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.