Francisco Liriano dominates, then Royals take apart Tigers
Detroit – The Tigers on Sunday went from chasing a no-hitter to falling into a pair of three-run holes, ultimately dropping the finale of the four-game series to the Royals, 8-5.
They fought back once – erasing a three-run deficit in the bottom of the sixth inning. But the Royals put up three more in the top of the seventh – walks and towering home runs proving a fatal combination.
Right-hander Drew VerHagen walked a pair and was hastily removed by manager Ron Gardenhire – who saw walks fuel the Royals’ rally in the sixth.
Right-hander Buck Farmer, who had allowed only one run in his last seven outings, entered and hung a 2-2 change-up to left-handed hitting Mike Moustakas. He pounded the ball on a high arc over the right-field wall and onto the Belle Tire sign.
BOX SCORE: Royals 8, Tigers 5
The Tigers put the lead-off man on in the seventh and eighth innings, but couldn’t rally. Royals closer Kelvin Herrera put the Tigers down in order in the ninth.
The first half of the game was much quieter.
Left-hander Francisco Liriano took a 2-0 lead and a no-hitter into the sixth inning. His fast-climbing pitch count – it was 79 after five innings – added to the suspense.
But Tigers’ nemesis Whit Merrifield altered the storyline, leading off the sixth with a home run into the bullpen in left field. Cheslor Cuthbert followed with a double and, one out and a walk later, Liriano left to warm applause from the Comerica Park crowd.
Alex Wilson entered and walked Paulo Orlando after getting ahead of him 0-2.
Abraham Almonte then bashed a 91-mph fastball 425 feet into seats in right field – grand slam home run. According to ESPN Stats, the Royals were 0-for-15 with the bases loaded before that home run.
Wilson has allowed three home runs this season – all three were lead-changers.
Three of the five runs in the inning were charged to Liriano, who walked four and gave up the two hits. Tigers pitchers walked eight and four of those scored.
Through the first five innings, though, Liriano had not allowed any hard contact, let alone any hits. The average exit velocity on balls put in play by the Royals was 77 mph.
But he tried to sneak a 91-mph four-seam fastball by Merrifield on an 0-1 pitch. It was one of just five four-seamers Liriano threw in the game.
The Tigers answered right back in the bottom of the sixth. Royals starter Eric Skoglund walked Jeimer Candelario and Miguel Cabrera and was lifted for right-hander Kevin McCarthy.
Nick Castellanos and JaCoby Jones followed with RBI singles and James McCann tied the game with a sacrifice fly, scoring Castellanos.
That ended up being the last hurrah, though.
Castellanos had three hits including an RBI single in the first. Candelario knocked in the Tigers’ first run with a double in the first.