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Kansas City Royals Blast Inconsistent Justin Verlander, Tighten Central Division Race Further

June 16th, 2014 at 11:08 PM
By Max DeMara

After starting the year out 0-5 against the Detroit Tigers, the Kansas City Royals are winless no more. A dominating performance helped them put away their first victory of the year over the team that's now clinging to first place.

'IMG_0013 Justin Verlander' photo (c) 2012, Roger DeWitt - license:

Detroit struck first in the third, when a Rajai Davis double scored Alex Avila for a 1-0 lead. After Verlander tap danced around some potential land mines with runners on, they added to that lead in the fourth with a single from Austin Jackson. Little could anyone tell that was all the offense Detroit would get until late.

Kansas City answered back quick with an RBI single from former Tiger Omar Infante. Then, after an excuse-me single by Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler cleared the loaded bases for a 4-2 lead. Things got worse in the sixth after a three run home run by Omar Infante to make it 7-2.

Detroit's offense didn't awaken at all following the barrage of runs. In fact, they shrunk from the challenge, going quickly and quietly the rest of the way. The Royals, meanwhile, just kept hitting. They put up four more runs in the seventh inning, and continued hitting Evan Reed, who hardly looked better than Verlander. Blaine Hardy stopped the bleeding for two innings, but Detroit's offense couldn't get anything done to narrow the margin.

In the ninth inning, Detroit loaded the bases and scored six runs after a grand slam by J.D. Martinez made the finish interesting. Kansas City's bullpen managed to get the final out by striking out Jackson, though, and finished the 11-8 masterpiece off.

Top Tiger: Blaine Hardy. In an ugly game, give Hardy credit for collecting a few strikeouts and having some fast innings without runs being scored. Everyone else was getting knocked around, but Hardy managed to put together two innings of one hit ball. For a Tiger pitcher on this night, that was worthy of hero status.

Bungling Bengal: Justin Verlander. Again, Verlander was beyond bad. Through the first four innings, he maneuvered around trouble, but still showed signs of being hittable. In the fifth, the levy finally broke in a major way, and Verlander was shelled. Much like his last start, location was off and Verlander just didn't look like himself at all. Perhaps that's the best description of 2014 for Detroit's former ace, who at 6-7 on the season is no longer is looking the part.

The Turning Point: Billy Butler's bases-clearing double. With Kansas City clawing back into the game, Verlander had the chance to get a big ground ball from the bat of the usually apt to please Butler. Instead. Verlander hung a pitch and Butler crushed it, clearing the bases and opening the game up. From that point on, the Tigers went into a shell until the bottom of the ninth.

Play Of The Game: Lorenzo Cain's diving catch in the bottom of the sixth. With a runner on second, Cain nabbed a gap shot and stole a certain triple from J.D. Martinez. It appeared that Cain momentarily flew through the air, and barely snagged the ball which was laying in the tip of his glove It was a very nice play from the Royals, who are very active defensively.

Stat Of The Game: 3, consecutive innings Monday night where the Tigers gave up 3 or more runs from the fifth to the seventh. Regardless of how much offensive output a team enjoys, that type of pitching isn't going to get the job done. Verlander was the culprit, and Reed didn't do anything to help the team out, either.

Quote To Note: "I don't think he's done. I think Justin Verlander will be just fine." –Brad Ausmus. After getting hit around again and seeing his record plummet below .500, some justifiable worries are beginning to start regarding the team's former ace. Don't count Ausmus as a non-believer however, as he staunchly supported him post-game, still thinks Verlander is an excellent pitcher and will continue to be for the Tigers.

What's Next: The Tigers continue their four game set with the Royals Tuesday night looking for a response from their new stopper, as Max Scherzer (8-2) gets the ball against Yordano Ventura (4-5) at 7:08 p.m.

Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.

Tags: Baseball, Billy Butler, Blaine Hardy, Detroit, Detroit Tigers, Eric Hosmer, Evan Reed, J.D. Martinez, Justin Verlander, MLB, Omar Infante, Rajai Davis

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