Here’s how things are going these days for the Royals: They mount a stirring rally Friday in the ninth inning and get a two-out wild pitch from Detroit reliever Fernando Rodney with the tying run on third base.
So what happens?
Tigers catcher Brandon Inge retrieves the ball in time for Rodney to preserve Detroit’s 4-3 victory by tagging out David DeJesus at the plate.
Of course, that means it wasn’t actually a wild pitch. What it was, though, was another loss. That makes six in a row for the Royals and 13 in their last 15 games.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Wichita Eagle
The Royals paid a heavy price for two other problem areas:
They repeatedly squandered scoring opportunities against Tigers starter Justin Verlander before roughing up Gary Glover and Rodney.
Cabrera hit two home runs that powered the Tigers to a 4-0 lead, including a howitzer shot that soared into the protective net in from of the car atop the far-left message board at the back of the left-field fountains.
Take away Cabrera -- and wouldn’t the Royals love to -- and Brian Bannister produced his most encouraging outing in two months. As it was, he allowed just five hits in eight innings.
All Bannister, 7-13, came away with was a seventh straight loss.
The Royals stranded 12 runners by wasting repeated chances to break through against Verlander. The worst came in the third and sixth innings when one-out strikeouts by DeJesus and John Buck torpedoed threats.
DeJesus struck out with runners at second and third in the third. Buck took a third strike with bases loaded. Verlander escaped each time by retiring the next hitter.
Verlander, 10-13, allowed eight hits in 6 2/3 shutout innings before exiting after 113th pitch resulted in his third walk. Glover gave up Buck’s two-out RBI triple in the eighth.
The Royals then opened the ninth against Rodney with successive doubles by Mike Aviles and Esteban German. A walk to DeJesus put the tying run on base.
Rodney pitched out of it for his sixth save in 10 chances. He struck out José Guillen and Mark Teahen before Billy Butler shot an RBI single into left. DeJesus raced to third with the tying run.
Up came Ross Gload, who had four singles in his previous at-bats. Rodney’s first pitch scooted past Inge, and DeJesus charged home. Igne pounced on the ball and made an accurate throw.
Rodney was waiting when DeJesus arrived.
The Royals out-hit the Tigers 13-6, but it wasn’t enough to offset Cabrera’s 26th and 27th homers.
A new scouting report might be in order because Cabrera was eight for 16 with 10 RBIs when he last faced the Royals. That was July 21-23 here when the Tigers steamrolled the Royals by a 33-6 margin in a three-game sweep.
The guy is signed through 2015. The Royals and Tigers play 18-19 times a year. Add the games remaining this year, and the Royals figure to see Cabrera another 130-plus times in the future.
Somebody needs a plan.
Cabrera’s first homer, leading off the second inning, staked the Tigers to a 1-0 lead. He timed a fourth straight fastball from Bannister and sent it 393 feet over the right-field wall.
Carlos Guillen followed with a double into the left-center gap. He went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Matt Joyce’s grounder to second.
Detroit extended its lead to 3-0 in the third. Curtis Granderson drew a one-out walk and scored on Placido Polanco’s RBI double into the left-center gap.
Cabrera’s second homer came with two outs in the sixth _ and it was that bomb over the left-field fountains.