One of the more interesting races left in Major League Baseball and the playoffs is that for the top of the AL Central, as the Detroit Tigers got close to erasing the gulf between them and the Kansas City Royals, winning 9-5 to open the two team’s series with a solid start from Justin Verlander and a big hitting day for Torii Hunter.
With the win, the Tigers (79-65) are now one game behind the Royals (79-63), and two more games left between the two teams in this series at Detroit. There will be another series between the teams in just over a week in Kansas City, which means the battle for the top spot in the division is far from over. There are also wild card implications, with the Tigers 0.5 games behind the Seattle Mariners at the moment.
It’s been a rough season for Justin Verlander, not to mention the past couple of weeks due to certain internet leaks. One of the surest hands in Baseball entered the game with a 12-12 record and an ERA that’s dangerously close to 5.00. Verlander didn’t exactly light it up, as things did get away from him in the 7th inning and there was also the two-run RBI he allowed Norichika Aoki in the second inning. He finished seven innings of pitching with six hits allowed and four runs earned, striking out four. He still came out with the win thanks to the tremendous run support.
The Tigers are either first or second in most hitting categories this season, which makes it alright if a starting pitcher doesn’t have a special day on the mound. The first two runs came from two huge errors on the same play by Eric Hosmer, but later on it was about the bats getting hot. Nick Castellanos finished with two RBIs and Torii Hunter was 3-for-5 with two runs as the Tigers finished with 15-for-38 at the plate, not to mention walking three times as well.
The Royals got back in the game during a nice little run during the 7th and 8th innings, with Hosmer repaying for his earlier mistake, finishing the game with three hits and two RBIs, but a Miguel Cabrera single in the 8th inning put the game to rest, and things were shut down after Joe Nathan came on to close the game, having a quiet ninth inning of shutting down the Royals although without striking anyone out.
Five pitchers were on the mound for the Royals, all of them gave up hits. The worst was obviously for Jeremy Guthrie, giving up 10 hits in less than three innings, leaving the game after having allowed 8 runs while striking out only one batter in his start, falling to 11-12 this season with a 4.54 ERA. Jason Vargas who starts next for the Royals should be expected to do a lot better.