Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas blasted two-run homers during a
seven-run, second-inning outburst and the Royals took over first
place in the American League Central Division with their ninth
straight victory, an 11-4 thrashing of the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday
night at Comerica Park.
Kansas City was in last place, four games below .500, and trailed
Detroit (36-31) by 6 1/2 games on June 1.
The Royals have not been in first place this late in a season since
Aug, 29, 2003.
"It's been a long time since we've been in this spot," Royals
designated hitter Billy Butler said. "It's definitely the latest
since I've been here that we've been in first. It's a good feeling
but there's a lot of games left."
Butler and his teammates pounded Tigers starter Max Scherzer (8-3)
for 10 runs and 10 hits in four-plus innings Tuesday. Coming off the
first complete-game shutout of his career, Scherzer allowed the most
runs he has surrendered since May 3, 2010, when he gave up 10 to
Kansas City smacked around Justin Verlander for seven runs and a
season-high 12 hits during Monday's 11-8 victory.
"There are no secrets. We know what he's coming with and he's got
tremendous stuff, but our offense is playing so well right now,"
Butler said of Scherzer. "One through nine, there are no breaks. It
puts a lot of pressure on the pitcher."
Second baseman Omar Infante drove in three runs, and shortstop
Alcides Escobar had three hits and scored three times for Kansas
Right-hander Yordano Ventura (5-5) allowed three runs in seven
innings to get the victory.
Kansas City's turnaround began after a 4-0 loss at Toronto on June
1. It has won 12 of its last 14.
"Two weeks ago, we had a press conference and we were coming into a
real tough stretch," manager Ned Yost said. "I said we better get
our act together quick or we're going to be in trouble, and, man,
we've got our act together. From that point on, we've played
spectacular baseball. We got hot at the right time."
On the other side, the Tigers have continued to flounder since being
15 games over .500 on May 18. Scherzer doesn't sense any panic.
"We're really even-keeled," he said. "We've played great and we were
even-keeled and we've played bad and we're even-keeled. Stretches
like this happen. We're humans, not machines out there. You're going
to play bad. I get it. But at the same time, we all need to rally
around each other, believe in our talent and come ready to play
every single day from here on out."
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The Royals sent 11 men to the plate against Scherzer during their
seven-run second inning. Gordon, the left fielder, hit his eighth
homer for the first two runs, and third baseman Moustakas matched
him with his seventh homer two batters later. Infante's two-run
single and first baseman Eric Hosmer's RBI groundout made it 7-0.
"It came down to I didn't execute with two strikes," Scherzer said.
"I'm not putting hitters away in those counts and that's the
difference right now."
Third baseman Nick Castellanos and center fielder Austin Jackson
drove in runs during the bottom of the inning to cut Detroit's
deficit to 7-2.
The Royals tacked on three more runs in the fifth for a 10-2 lead.
NOTES: Royals RF Nori Aoki came out of the game in the second inning
with a left groin injury. Manager Ned Yost does not expect Aoki to
miss more than a day or two. His replacement, Lorenzo Cain, robbed
Tigers RF J.D. Martinez of a two-run homer in the fourth. ...Tigers
RF Torii Hunter was not in the lineup after leaving Monday's game
with a right hamstring cramp. "I haven't felt that in 10 years,"
said Hunter, who hopes to return to the lineup by the weekend. ...
The Tigers officially signed their first-round draft pick, OF Derek
Hill of Elk Grove (Calif.) High School. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound
Hill, the No. 23 overall selection, reportedly received a $2 million
signing bonus. ... Kansas City 1B Eric Hosmer, who scored his 250th
career run Monday, became the third player in franchise history to
have 250 runs and 250 RBIs before turning 25. He joined George Brett
and Carlos Beltran. .... Royals 3B Danny Valencia began a rehab
assignment with Triple-A Omaha on Tuesday. Valencia went on the
15-day disabled list June 1 due to a muscle strain in his left hand.
Yost expects Valencia to get 25 to 30 minor league at-bats before
returning to the major league club.
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