Miguel Cabrera, Willi Castro not enough for Detroit Tigers in 8-7 loss to Royals

Detroit Free Press

Evan Petzold
| Detroit Free Press

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With only three games remaining, Miguel Cabrera is playing his best baseball of the shortened season for the Detroit Tigers.

Yet not even Cabrera at his best is enough to produce wins. The two-time MVP has four homers in his last four games — all losses. He launched his 10th of the year, a 450-foot blast to center field, to tie Thursday’s contest in the fifth inning

Relievers Tyler Alexander and Gregory Soto squandered the momentum by allowing four runs in the sixth inning, leading to an 8-7 loss for the Tigers (22-33) against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Cabrera and Willi Castro combined to go 6-for-10 with six RBIs.

[ Tigers out of 2020 playoffs. Can they lose enough to get 2021 top pick? ]

In the third inning, Castro did his part with a two-run home run to left off Royals left-handed starter Kris Bubic, pulling his squad to within one run. Leading the Tigers with a .344 batting average, Castro finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Rookie third baseman Isaac Paredes extended his hitting streak to 10 games.

Castro and Cabrera delivered back-to-back RBI singles, followed by a run-scoring single by pinch-hitter Harold Castro, to make it a one-run game in the top of the eighth inning, but second baseman Niko Goodrum struck out to end the rally.

In his last four games, Cabrera is 8-for-19 with four home runs and 12 RBIs. He now leads the Tigers with 10 homers and 35 RBIs in 2020.

[ How Miguel Cabrera has proven he is ‘not done’ contributing to Detroit Tigers ]

Detroit wraps up its schedule with three more clashes with the Royals. Right-hander Spencer Turnbull starts Friday, followed by Matthew Boyd and Tarik Skubal on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. 

The Tigers could make up a postponed doubleheader against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday, but it will only happen if the Cardinals need one or both games to make the postseason.

Fulmer’s final

Two batters, two singles and two stolen bases weren’t the way right-hander Michael Fulmer wanted to start his final outing of the year. And it didn’t help that Salvador Perez chimed in with a three-run home run off his 92.5 mph sinker.

[ Why Detroit Tigers’ Michael Fulmer thinks short starts will make him better in long run ]

The Royals took a 3-0 lead in the first inning and added another run in the third with one out before manager Lloyd McClendon pulled Fulmer at 42 pitches. He allowed four runs on seven hits and no walks or strikeouts in 2⅓ innings.

His pitch mix was 55% sinkers, 31% sliders, 7% curveballs and 7% four-seam fastballs. His only swinging strike came off his curveball. He got five called strikes — three with his sinker, two with his slider.

[ Casey Mize’s bright Detroit Tigers future remains intact despite struggles ]

Fulmer, who missed all of 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, finished his 2020 season with an 8.78 ERA in 27⅔ innings across 10 starts. He gave up 27 earned runs and 12 walks while logging 20 strikeouts.

Candelario exits early

Before the Royals went to bat in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Tigers made a defensive adjustment. Brandon Dixon shifted from left field to first base and was replaced in the outfield by Jorge Bonifacio.

That’s because Jeimer Candelario exited the game with lower back tightness. He is considered day-to-day.

Candelario, hitting fourth, finished 0-for-2. He has one hit in his last 23 at-bats, lowering his batting average to .297.

[ Detroit Tigers want to get Derek Hill more at-bats; Isaac Paredes hitting again ]

Gordon retires

Royals outfielder Alex Gordon announced his retirement Thursday and will be done playing after Sunday’s finale. Debuting in 2007, the No 2 overall pick in 2005 played all 14 seasons in Kansas City, earning seven Gold Glove Awards and winning the 2015 World Series.

Gordon entered the weekend series against the Tigers with a career line of .245/.323/.405 against the Tigers, with 35 doubles, 25 homers and 91 RBIs in 190 games. He has 168 career hits off his AL Central foe.

“Remarkable player,” McClendon said Thursday. “He’s accomplished a lot here in Kansas City. He’s a young man that came to the big leagues under a lot of pressure — the next George Brett, which put an extremely lot of pressure on him. But he was able to move to the outfield and become an All-Star. Just a phenomenal player.”

He got the best of the Tigers in 2012, registering a .324 batting average, eight doubles, three home runs and nine RBIs in 18 games. Gordon is the active leader in homers (25) against the Tigers, followed by Jose Abreu’s 23 for the Chicago White Sox. 

Gordon started in left Thursday and went 0-for-3 with a walk.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzoldThe Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Detroit Tigers content

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