KANSAS CITY, Mo. —Well, hey, this was a lot harder and took a lot longer than necessary Wednesday night, but the Royals pulled out a remarkable 3-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers in 11 innings at Kauffman Stadium.
What else matters?
Rick Ankiel's double into the right-center gap led to the winning run after Tigers second baseman Scott Sizemore bobbled the relay throw. That error enabled pinch-runner Willie Bloomquist to score all the way from first base.
Ankiel's double capped a stunning turnaround.
The Tigers tied the score 1-1 on Miguel Cabrera's two-out homer in the ninth inning against Joakim Soria. Cabrera's slicing drive clipped the right-field foul pole.
Detroit then took a 2-1 lead by opening their 11th inning with three straight singles against Kyle Farnsworth.
That only set up an amazing finish.
The Royals had just four hits, all singles, when they came to bat in the 11th against Tigers closer Jose Valverde.
But Alberto Callaspo tied the game with a leadoff homer that just hooked around the right-field foul pole. Billy Butler followed with an infield single when shortstop Ramon Santiago failed to make a clean pickup on a grounder up the middle.
After Bloomquist replaced Butler as a pinch-runner, Ankiel drove Valverde's first pitch, a 96-mph fastball, into the right-center gap. Bloomquist initially held third but chugged home when Sizemore mishandled the relay.
Ankiel's hit was his second of the night.
Farnsworth (1-0) got the victory despite allowing a run in his only inning. Valverde got a loss and a blown save.
Soria was one strike away from securing a 1-0 victory for Luke Hochevar when Cabrera sliced his homer. Soria had struck out the three previous hitters.
Hochevar turned in a terrific first start in what the Royals hope will be a breakout year. He permitted just five hits in 7 2/3 scoreless innings.
Detroit starter Max Scherzer, the former Missouri All-American, actually outpitched Hochevar before exiting after six innings. Scherzer allowed just one hit, although he walked two and hit two.
With Scherzer gone, the Royals broke through with two outs in the seventh against reliever Fu-Te Ni.
Yuniesky Betancourt stroked a single to left before Jason Kendall worked a walk. Chris Getz then flicked an RBI single into short right, but the Royals squandered the chance for a bigger inning when Kendall was trapped between second and third for the final out.
Even so, that sent Hochevar into the eighth inning with a 1-0 lead.
Alex Avila opened the Detroit eighth with a single up the middle, and pinch-runner Gerald Laird moved to second on Sizemore's sacrifice. Laird held second on Santiago's fly to left, but that finished Hochevar.
Royals manager Trey Hillman summoned Soria as the lineup turned over to leadoff hitter Austin Jackson. Soria ended the inning with a four-pitch strikeout and started the ninth with successive strikeouts before Cabrera's homer.
The Royals didn't get a hit until Kendall's two-out bloop in the fifth inning.