Royals

Eric Hosmer lifts Royals to 4-1 win over Tigers, sweep of three-game series

Eric Hosmer’s two-run home run in the ninth inning was the decisive blow as the Royals beat the Tigers 4-1 on Wednesday night in Detroit, sweeping the three-game series.
Eric Hosmer’s two-run home run in the ninth inning was the decisive blow as the Royals beat the Tigers 4-1 on Wednesday night in Detroit, sweeping the three-game series. The Associated Press

As a small white baseball created a parabola in the night sky over Comerica Park, Eric Hosmer peeked back toward the first-base dugout.

Already, the party had begun, a scene of joy and smiles and merriment. Salvador Perez flexed his muscles and prepared to hug his good friend. A few feet away, somebody looked for the Rally Mantis, Version 2.0.

It was the ninth inning on Wednesday, and Hosmer had sent a baseball soaring to deep right field, a decisive two-run homer that silenced a ballpark and let the mind wander. What comes next in this strange 2016 season?

When he finished circling the bases, the Royals had their first lead in an eventual 4-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers. When the night was done, the Royals had relighted the fuse in an ever-turbulent season, completing a three-game sweep at Comerica Park.

Hosmer finished 2 for 3, breaking up a no-hitter in the seventh and delivering his two-run shot in a three-run ninth inning. The Royals (60-60) climbed back to .500 after finishing 5-1 over a six-game road trip. As he stood before his locker in the moments after the game, Hosmer could not remember doing something like this.

“I don’t even remember my whole career coming into this place and sweeping a series,” Hosmer said.

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Maybe because it had never happened before. For the Royals, the night marked their first three-game sweep on the road since last September and their first three-game sweep in Detroit since 2008.

For a club that nearly collapsed in July, it was the latest flicker of hope. Twelve days ago, the Royals had fallen to 51-58 after a loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at Kauffman Stadium. On Wednesday, they notched their ninth win in 11 games. As they boarded a plane back to Kansas City, they had climbed within three games of second-place Detroit (63-57) and nine games of first-place Cleveland (68-50). In a crowded and convoluted race for the second wild-card spot, they were 6  1/2 games off the pace.

So … game on?

“Everyone realizes that if we’re going to make this comeback you can’t think too far ahead,” Hosmer said. “Stay in the moment and take it day to day. I think we’re approaching it really good. We come in each day and worry about the day, and take care of business.”

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On a night where Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez took a no-hitter into the seventh, Kansas City weathered the storm and escaped town with another victory. Starter Yordano Ventura allowed just one earned run in 6  1/3 innings , finishing with seven strikeouts. Alex Gordon drilled a game-tying solo homer — his 10th of the season — in the top of the eighth. One inning later, Hosmer ravaged the Tigers bullpen once more. Inside the dugout, the mood channeled something from 2015.

“The dugout was great all game,” Gordon said. “Sanchez was cruising through, but there wasn’t really any panic. It kind of had that feel that we were gonna figure it out and get it done.”

Before the Royals could punish the Detroit relief corps, they first had to wait out Sanchez, who was nearly unhittable after displaying shaky form for much of 2016. For months, Sanchez had shuffled between the starting rotation and bullpen. He posted a 7.09 ERA in May before being relegated to a relief role. He returned to the rotation in July, recording an 8.41 ERA in 20  1/3 innings.

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On Wednesday, he turned into a dynamo, taking a no-hitter into the seventh.

Sanchez was perhaps enthused to see the Royals. In his career, he had posted a 2.79 ERA against Kansas City in 77  1/3 innings, including 11 starts. For years, he served as a worthy foil, helping the Tigers to division titles in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

He opened the game Wednesday with four perfect innings, retiring 12 straight hitters. The perfect game would end when Hosmer led off the fifth with a walk. The no-hitter would stretch into the seventh, when Hosmer ripped a two-out double.

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Sanchez finished out the seventh, but Tigers manager Brad Ausmus tapped left-hander Justin Wilson to pitch the eighth. Gordon made the decision appear suspect, drilling a solo homer into the seats in right field. It was Gordon’s second homer in two days. After months of struggling, he has now hit safely in eight straight games.

“I’m just trying to put something together,” Gordon said. “We’ve still got a little bit of time left. So it’s been a tough season. But we got a little bit of time left and hopefully we can put something good together.”

There is no telling where this season goes from here. But for another night in Detroit, the formula worked. Rookie Matt Strahm picked up his first career win. The bullpen held tight. And the party survived for another day.

“We’re definitely not out of it,” Gordon said. “We’re just going to try to play good baseball.”

Royals 4, Tigers 1

Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Orlando cf

4

0

0

0

0

1

.322

Cuthbert 3b

4

0

0

0

0

3

.290

Cain rf

4

1

1

0

0

2

.282

Hosmer 1b

3

1

2

2

1

0

.274

Morales dh

4

0

1

0

0

1

.243

Dyson pr-dh

0

1

0

0

0

0

.251

Gordon lf

2

1

1

1

2

1

.219

Escobar ss

4

0

0

0

0

1

.258

Butera c

4

0

1

1

0

1

.281

Mondesi 2b

4

0

1

0

0

0

.215

Totals

33

4

7

4

3

10

 

Detroit

AB

R

H

Bi

W

K

Avg.

Kinsler 2b

3

0

0

0

1

1

.284

Aybar ss

3

0

0

0

1

0

.000

Cabrera 1b

4

0

0

0

0

1

.307

V.Martinez dh

4

1

2

1

0

1

.303

J.Martinez rf

4

0

3

0

0

0

.311

Collins lf

2

0

0

0

0

1

.227

Upton lf

1

0

0

0

0

1

.226

McGehee 3b

4

0

0

0

0

0

.256

McCann c

3

0

0

0

0

2

.208

Saltalamacchia ph

1

0

0

0

0

1

.199

Romine cf

3

0

1

0

0

2

.220

Totals

32

1

6

1

2

10

 

TableStyle: SP-basebyinningsCCI Template: SP-basebyinnings

Kansas City

000

000

013

4

7

2

Detroit

010

000

000

1

6

0

E: Ventura (3), Cuthbert (11). LOB: Kansas City 5, Detroit 9. 2B: Hosmer (22), Morales (16). 3B: Mondesi (2). HR: Gordon (10), off Wilson; Hosmer (17), off Greene; V.Martinez (22), off Ventura. RBIs: Hosmer 2 (69), Gordon (20), Butera (12), V.Martinez (70). CS: Hosmer (2). S: Romine. DP: Kansas City 2.

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

W

K

ERA

Ventura

6.1

5

1

1

2

7

4.46

Strahm W, 1-0

1.2

1

0

0

0

1

1.35

Herrera S, 6

1

0

0

0

0

2

2.01

Detroit

IP

H

R

ER

W

K

ERA

Sanchez

7

1

0

0

2

8

5.94

Wilson

0.2

2

1

1

0

0

4.67

Greene L, 2-3

1

4

3

3

1

2

4.57

Lowe

0.1

0

0

0

0

0

7.75

Inherited runners-scored: Strahm 2-0, Greene 1-0, Lowe 2-0. Blown Save: Wilson, 5-6. IBB: off Greene (Gordon). HBP: Ventura 2 (Collins,Kinsler). WP: Ventura. Umpires: Home, Ted Barrett; First, Bob Davidson; Second, Dan Iassogna; Third, Dale Scott. Time: 2:47. Att: 28,790.

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