DETROIT | Brian Bannister authored the latest chapter for the Royals in this increasingly encouraging September by pitching six shutout innings Wednesday night in a 10-4 mauling of the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
The victory completed a three-game sweep and, for Bannister, can be likened to chipping in for an eagle on 18 to conclude an otherwise miserable round of golf.
“It was nice to go out there and finish on a positive note,” he admitted. “And just to watch those guys hit. I wanted to finish with a quality start and a good outing.
“I’ll probably be a dad here in a couple of weeks. This is just a good way to end.”
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Bannister, 9-16, scattered seven hits and now has a pleasant memory to carry into the off-season — thanks in part to a mountain of offensive support.
The Royals pounded out 13 hits and matched a season-high with a seven-run inning. It came in the fifth, knocked out Tigers starter Nate Robertson and extended the lead to 9-0.
Mitch Maier started the inning with a single against Robertson, 7-11, and capped the scoring with a bases-loaded triple against reliever Chris Lambert. Robertson and Lambert each contributed bases-loaded, two-out walks to the carnage.
The bottom third of the Royals’ order — John Buck, Tony Peña and Maier — reached base eight times and drove in seven runs: Two by Buck, two by Peña and Maier’s three-run triple.
As Buck observed, “We came up with the clutch hits at the right time.”
Alex Gordon had two hits and extended his hitting streak to 10 games. Mike Aviles had two hits and boosted his average to .322. José Guillen collected his 96th RBI. Kila Ka'aihue pounded a pinch single off the right-field wall — it was one man-sized single, too.
“Lot of production today,” manager Trey Hillman said. “It’s the same thing. We got a well-pitched game by Banny. It’s a great way for him to end his season — with six shutout innings.”
Bannister supplied the rotation’s 10th quality start in 11 games.
“The most satisfying thing in this whole series was how the team is playing,” he said. “The guys right now have a lot of fire. We’re playing well together. This month has been the most special month since I’ve been here as far as how we’ve played as a team.”
Robertson allowed single runs in the second and fourth innings before the Royals sent 11 batters to the plate in the fifth. He allowed eight runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.
The Royals also had a seven-run inning July 3 — the sixth — in a 10-7 victory at Baltimore. The last time they scored more than seven was an eight-run second inning on June 14, 2007 in a 17-8 victory over St. Louis at Kauffman Stadium.
The only sour note was David DeJesus exiting in the first inning after experiencing tightness in his right hip flexor on a strikeout. That ended his hitting streak at 14 games.
The Royals built their lead to 10-0 before Kip Wells yielded a two-out homer to Mike Hessman seventh.
Detroit also got a three-run homer from Placido Polanco with two outs in the ninth against Ron Mahay.
The victory moved the Royals, 73-86, a full game ahead of Detroit, 71-86, in the battle to avoid last place in the American League Central Division. The Tigers have lost for the 12th time in 13 games.
Detroit opens a four-game home series tonight against Tampa Bay, while the Royals have an open date before concluding the season with three games at Minnesota. The Tigers will make up a rainout Monday in Chicago only if it impacts the playoff race.
The Royals won for the 11th time in 13 games and improved to 16-7 in September after stumbling through a 7-20 August. They also ensured themselves of not losing 90 games for only the second time in eight years.
“Too bad this isn’t our August,” Buck said. “It’s a step forward that we need to take and build on. We want to finish strong. That way, we have some good, positive momentum going into the off-season.”