Somewhat obscured by the spectacle of Chris Young and Ryan Madson holding Detroit hitless through seven innings and Kendrys Morales’ three RBIs on Friday was the crucial game within the game between Royals’ reliever Kelvin Herrera and Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera.
In the Royals’ 4-1 victory, the 10-pitch duel that ended with Herrera striking out Cabrera with the bases loaded was nothing less than a classic, Royals manager Ned Yost said Saturday.
“You’d be hard-pressed to find a better matchup than what we saw last night,” Yost said. “That was a classic matchup. Power pitcher vs. arguably the best hitter in all of baseball. It was fun to watch.”
It also was what Yost called “a little nerve-wracking” on multiple levels.
“I felt that if he lost Cabrera, I was going to go get Wade (Davis) for a five-out save," he said. "And that was something I did not want to do.”
The strikeout came on a 99 mph fastball, one of nine pitches in the sequence that were 97 mph or faster, and it left Cabrera smiling in what appeared to appreciation of the momentous battle.
“As a fan, I mean, that’s ideal right there: bases loaded, power vs. power,” Tigers catcher Alex Avila said afterward, according to MLB.com. “It was fun to watch.”
More for Royals fans than Tigers fans, of course.
“It wouldn’t have been so much fun if he’d … ended up hitting a home run,” Yost said.