Six in a row. Thats right, suddenly the Royals cant lose. And this one on Monday night is how the Royals generally scripted things when they put together their club in the offseason.
A strong effort from a starting pitcher, Jeremy Guthrie in this case, some air-tight work from the bullpen and just enough hitting. The result was a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on a beautiful June night at Kauffman Stadium.
Guthrie surrendered a two-run homer in the third inning to Miguel Cabrera, but the Royals countered with three runs later in the inning and that was it.
Salvy Perezs two-run triple was the key answering blow against Tigers starter Doug Fister. And really ... hows that for underscoring that things are trending upward? A triple by Perez.
You know a lot of things have to go right for that to happen, first baseman Eric Hosmer said laughing.
First, the ball fell just beyond a diving attempt by center fielder Avasail Garcia in the right-center gap.
As soon as (that happened), Perez said, I saw a chance to make it to third base. ... I saw Torii Hunter catch up to the ball, and I said, Ive got a chance.
Those chances multiplied geometrically when Hunter, a nine-time Gold Glove winner, overthrew the first relay man. Two snap throws might have/should have nailed Perez at third base.
Instead Perez was safe and then scored what proved to be the winning run on Lorenzo Cains two-out infield single. Cain beat a (lets say, unrushed) throw from shortstop Jhonny Peralta.
Sal did a great job driving in two, Cain said, and I just felt like I had to get him in. So I got down the down line as fast as I could, and I was able to get a hit out of it. It was definitely huge.
That inning started when Alcides Escobar beat out a single to Peralta. In sum: Speed, hustle and some Detroit defensive shortcomings produced three runs and a victory.
Athleticism and speed were huge factors, manager Ned Yost agreed. We won the game on an infield hit Lorenzo Cain flying down the line.
Those three runs were enough only because Guthrie and a relay of Aaron Crow, Tim Collins, Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland nursed the one-run lead through the final six innings against the American Leagues best attack.
Holland got the final three outs and his 13th save in 15 chances.
Fister, 5-4, pitched an eight-inning complete game but took a tough-luck loss after yielding just the three runs along with nine hits.
Everybody knows theyre a real good club, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. Everybody knows that. They had a terrific spring and then they got off to a little slow start.
It looks like theyre getting into the swing of things now. And its a good club. Theyve got some speed, theyve got some power.
The key late-inning moment came in the Detroit seventh, which started with left fielder Alex Gordon making a diving catch on Omar Infantes sinking liner.
Garcia then pulled a 1-2 pitch through the right side for a single before Guthrie hit Andy Dirks with an 0-2 fastball. That put the tying and go-ahead runs on base and prompted a move to the bullpen.
Crow replaced Guthrie and retired Hunter on a fly to right before striking out Cabrera, the reigning MVP and Triple Crown winner.
I was trying to get ahead (of Cabrera), Crow said, but I fell down 2-0. Thats definitely not what you want to do against him.
I was able to get back in the count with a 2-0 slider, and then he fouled off a pretty good pitch to hit. So I was fortunate, too.
Crows work let Guthrie, 6-3, to finish with a quality start at two runs over 61/3 innings. Guthrie allowed six hits and three walks while failing to record a strikeout. A dozen of the outs against him were fly-outs.
They hit a lot of balls to the warning track, he said, so I utilized a lot of distance to get my outs. I didnt have great stuff out there, but I was able to get them to hit it just short enough that we could make the plays.