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Royals’ momentum busted by 16 Detroit runs

  • Kansas City Star
  • Published Thursday, July 10, 2014, at 11:03 p.m.

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – On the bright side, the Royals get three more cracks at the division-leading Tigers before the All-Star break, three more chances to chip away at a 5 1/2-game deficit in the AL Central.

Of course, if the series continues like it started Thursday, next week’s four-day break can’t get here soon enough for the Royals.

During the first of four games that could breathe life into the Royals’ playoff hopes entering the break or bury Ned Yost’s bunch in the standings, the Tigers outclassed their closest competition, spanking the Royals 16-4 before a crowd of 21,775 at Kauffman Stadium. The 12-run margin was the Royals’ worst of the season.

The Royals (47-44) returned to Kansas City around 3 a.m. from a nine-game road trip that ended above .500, thanks to Salvy Perez’s game-winning three-run ninth-inning blast Wednesday against the Rays.

But momentum in baseball is only as good as the next day’s starter — and Jeremy Guthrie struggled.

For the second consecutive start, Guthrie lasted only four-plus innings. He was shelled for six runs on 11 hits in four-plus innings during a 7-3 loss Saturday in Cleveland.

Guthrie wasn’t any better against the Tigers, who lit him up for eight runs — all earned — on eight hits and three walks.

When Torii Hunter led off the fifth by mashing a 428-foot moonshot to left field for a 7-2 lead, and Nick Castellanos followed with a single, Yost had seen enough.

But there was no relief for the Royals, who hadn’t allowed more than 12 runs this season before Thursday.

If anything, the Tigers’ assault ramped up against veteran lefty Scott Downs, who has appeared in four games in five days since being plucked from the free-agent scrap heap, and Louis Coleman, who was recalled before the game from Triple-A Omaha when Jason Vargas went on the disabled list.

Alex Avila and Eugenio Suarez greeted Downs with a pair of ringing doubles.

With one away, Coleman came on and struck out Austin Jackson, but the next five Tigers’ batters reached, including RBI singles by Ian Kinsler, J.D. Martinez and Hunter.

Castellanos polished off an eight-run frame with an RBI double that had the Royals buried 14-2.

Of course, it was over even before that fifth-inning fizzle.

Guthrie coughed up three first-inning runs and got tagged for three more in the fourth, capped by Miguel Cabrera’s two-run double off the wall in left.

Despite the shellacking, the Royals had a few reasons to cheer.

Leading off the bottom of the fourth, Billy Butler blasted a majestic 406-foot home run — his third of the season — into the left-field fountains.

Eric Hosmer brought the home fans to their feet in the seventh when he roped a two-run homer to left-center — his sixth of the season, a 414-foot laser to right-center.

It marked the first time Hosmer had swatted a home run in back-to-back games since Aug. 16, when he went deep in both games of a doubleheader at Detroit.

It also marked the first time Hosmer and Butler homered in the same game since June 28, 2013.

Gordon to miss ASG – Royals outfielder Alex Gordon will miss next week’s All-Star game after visiting with a hand specialist and receiving an injection Thursday for his sprained right wrist.

Angels shortstop Erick Aybar was added to the roster as Gordon’s replacement.

Gordon said he still plans to attend the game at Target Field in Minneapolis, and that he’s looking forward to rooting on fellow All-Stars Greg Holland and Salvador Perez.

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