DETROIT | All was right with the Royals when they last saw Comerica Park.
Yes, it’s been a long time.
The Royals marked their return Friday to the Motor City with a 6-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers. Nothing new, really. Start with an increasingly unproductive offense. Throw in another costly defensive mistake. And cap it with the latest too-brief outing from Kyle Davies.
The result was an 18th loss in 21 games.
“Not enough production,” manager Trey Hillman said. “Not enough two-out hits. That’s part of the issue. We need more two-out hits.”
“We have to have to ability to stop the bleeding when the defense makes a mistake,” Hillman added. “Unfortunately, we didn’t.”
Davies rolled through the first four innings before everything unraveled in a six-run fifth that began with a throwing error by shortstop Mike Aviles.
Four runs were unearned.
“Even in the fifth,” Davies said, “I threw some really good pitches. A bit unlucky. A broken-bat (hit) falls in. A jammed shot falls in. Two seeing-eye singles to the left side. The (Curtis) Granderson one was hit well.”
Granderson rammed a two-run triple into the right-center gap that gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead. It got worse thereafter. A lot worse.
“That inning was a little bit of everything,” catcher John Buck said. “The defense failed him a little bit, but Granderson hit the one mistake Kyle did make.”
Davies suffered his fourth straight loss in falling to 5-6. He allowed eight hits in 4 2/3 innings; six of them came in the fifth. It marked the sixth time in his last seven starts that he failed to last six innings.
This was the Royals’ first visit to Detroit since the first series of the season, when they stunned the Tigers with a three-game sweep. The Tigers had also lost four straight and show growing signs of a club playing out the string.
None of that mattered.
Detroit starter Zach Miner, 8-4, beat the Royals for the third time this season by yielding just one run in six innings. He has allowed three earned runs in 21 innings over those three starts.
“He’s a guy you don’t fear facing,” third baseman Mark Teahen said. “But the numbers he’s put up against us this year, I guess we should. He doesn’t throw overly hard. He doesn’t have really great stuff.
“Maybe it’s a confidence thing he has against us. He’s a guy we need to get to. We didn’t do it.”
The Royals scratched out single runs in the seventh and ninth against the Tigers’ bullpen but never got the tying run to the plate.
The loss dropped the Royals to 56-78, which leaves them four games worse than last year’s record through 134 games. They must win 17 of their remaining 28 games to avoid losing 90 games for the seventh time in eight years.
The Royals collected 11 hits, including Teahen’s first home run since July 10. That staked Davies to a 1-0 lead in the second inning. It was a low liner leading off the inning on a 1-1 fastball that stayed fair down the right-field line.
It was the only run Miner allowed, although the Royals had plenty of chances. They stranded seven runners in the first five innings and nine in all.
The Royals, because of those botched opportunities, were still clinging to a 1-0 lead when Aviles opened the Detroit fifth with a throwing error after fielding Marcus Thames’ routine one-hopper to short.
“The biggest part of that inning,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, “was Marcus Thames busting his tail to get to first. Without him running that hard, the ball gets picked up and he’s out. It probably frustrated (Davies) a little bit.”
It didn’t help. The error was the 24th by the Royals in their last 21 games with an accumulative cost of 22 unearned runs.
“We’ve done a better job (recently) on pop-ups,” Hillman said. “Now, we’ve got to do a better job of throwing the ball across the infield. We’ve had several (bad) balls, and they’re not easy picks.”
Edgar Renteria followed with a single through the left side. Inge fouled off two bunts before striking out, but Granderson lashed his league-leading 11th triple into the right-center gap. Polanco’s RBI single made it 3-1.
Polanco went to second when Magglio Ordoñez lined a single into center.
The runners stole second and third when Miguel Cabrera swung through a 1-2 fastball, which meant both scored when Jeff Larish pulled a single into right. A wild pitch moved Larish to second, which allowed him to score when Gary Sheffield pulled a single through the left side.
That quickly, it was 6-1, and Davies was done.
So, too, were the Royals.
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