DETROIT | Strange night Saturday at Comerica Park and, no, not because the Royals absolutely mauled the Detroit Tigers 13-3.
Not only that, anyway.
The Royals muscled up for three homers — had some “slug” to use one of manager Trey Hillman’s favorite words. (Pronounce it sluggg in a Texas drawl for full effect.) Had it when it mattered, too.
“Big night,” DH Billy Butler said. “That just shows you right there that we can do it if we work the count. We’ve got the offensive power to do that. We showed that tonight.”
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Nobody showed more than Butler, who hit two of those three homers — his eighth and ninth of the season — for the first multi-homer game of his career. All three came against Detroit starter Kenny Rogers, who had never before allowed three homers at Comerica Park.
In fact, Rogers has surrendered three homers or more on just three occasions in his 20-year career with six teams when pitching in his home ballpark.
Also, Rogers, 9-12, lost to the Royals for the second time in seven days — and those are the Royals’ only victories since Aug. 15. This victory ended a four-game skid.
“My record against them isn’t very good at all,” said Rogers, whose career record against the Royals is down to 21-20 after losing seven of his last eight decisions. “It tells you where I’m at with my ability level. So that’s extremely frustrating.”
How about that? The Royals causing frustration instead of wallowing in it.
The winning pitcher the last two times was Brandon Duckworth, who compiled a 4.75 ERA in 27 games at Class AAA Omaha before injuries forced his return to the big leagues in time for last Sunday’s 7-3 victory over Rogers at Kauffman Stadium.
Duckworth, 2-0, allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings. All three runs followed leadoff triples — by Curtis Granderson in the first, Placido Polanco in the third and Matt Joyce in the sixth.
“Three of them,” Duckworth said, “and they all scored. But we were able to limit them to that. That’s the big thing, especially with that team, the power that they have. If you can limit them to a one spot in an inning, that’s the biggest key.”
And this: The Royals scored five runs with two outs. Those two-out hits, a rarity this season, included the game’s two key blows:
•An RBI single by David DeJesus that broke a 2-2 tie in a four-run sixth after Alberto Callaspo not only failed to execute a sacrifice with runners on first and second but compounded that botch by grounding into a double play.
DeJesus was two for 22 in his career against Rogers before driving a 1-0 changeup into center field for the go-ahead run.
“He was banking on getting me out,” DeJesus said. “And that’s what I was thinking, `Dang, do I ever get a hit against this guy?’”
•Butler’s second homer was a three-run bomb that capped the sixth after José Guillen followed DeJesus’ single with one of his own.
“He missed a couple of spots,” Butler said, “and I hit them. I could have missed them. That’s baseball. I just happened to be locked in.”
Rogers gave up six runs and eight hits in his six innings. The Royals put the game away with a five-run eighth against Nate Robertson and Casey Fossum. The Royals hit three doubles in the inning.
Mini-slug. (Drawl optional.)
The Royals finished with 17 hits, including at least one from nine players. Butler and Ross Gload each had three hits, while Mike Aviles, Guillen and Mark Teahen had two apiece.
The three homers, Teahen also had one, marked the Royals’ first multi-homer game since Aug. 3, when they hit two in a 14-3 victory over the White Sox. That was the brawl game when Miguel Olivo charged the mound.
That was also the last time the Royals scored more than seven runs.
“We finally got some clutch hits and put things together,” Teahen said. “We looked up in the sixth and had no guys left on base. That’s the polar opposite of what we’ve been doing. We’ve been getting a lot of hits and leaving guys on base.”
Leo Nuñez, Jeff Fulchino and Joakim Soria each worked one inning in closing out the Royals’ fourth victory in 22 games. Soria needed the work. He had pitched only 4 1/3 innings since Aug. 4.
Soria wasn’t sharp. He gave up a walk, a single and, nearly, a three-run homer to Polanco. The ball hooked just foul and offered the umpiring crew an opportunity to test the new replay system.
“I was hoping,” Teahen said. “If they’re going to have it, I was hoping to be on the field the first time they used it. It’s history, but it was pretty clearly foul.”
Crew chief Tom Hallion, who made the call, opted against the replay — and replays did suggest he made the right call. Polanco then ended the game by grounding into a double play.