Turnbull, Tigers struggle to slow Royals

Detroit Tigers

At some point after this season ends and the Tigers begin their managerial search in earnest, former Tigers catcher and current Royals third-base coach Vance Wilson’s name is expected to come up. So, too, could highly-regarded Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol. When that discussion begins, the Tigers’ 3-2 loss to

At some point after this season ends and the Tigers begin their managerial search in earnest, former Tigers catcher and current Royals third-base coach Vance Wilson’s name is expected to come up. So, too, could highly-regarded Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol. When that discussion begins, the Tigers’ 3-2 loss to the Royals on Friday at Kauffman Stadium is likely to be a part of the talk.

Box score

With general manager Al Avila in attendance as part of the Tigers’ final road trip of the season, the Royals showed the value of sound, aggressive baserunning in a close game. One night after Kansas City and Detroit put on a slugfest, the Royals and Tigers combined for just four extra-base hits, none of them over the fence. The difference came down to how the Royals — especially hot-hitting Adalberto Mondesi — ran the bases and put pressure on Detroit’s defense and starting pitcher Spencer Turnbull.

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The Tigers have yet to retire Mondesi through two games of this series; he has reached base safely eight consecutive times. They also have struggled to slow him down aside from a pickoff-caught-stealing in Thursday’s series opener. Mondesi has put up two stolen bases in back-to-back games; both of Friday’s steals helped set up runs.

Mondesi bunted his way on in the opening inning for a second straight night, advancing Whit Merrifield to second base each time. Their double steal quickly put pressure on Turnbull and Detroit’s defense, which moved the infield in against cleanup hitter Salvador Perez.

Once Perez grounded out, the Tigers intentionally walked Maikel Franco to setup a potential inning-ending double play. But Ryan O’Hearn worked Turnbull for a seven-pitch, run-scoring walk to open the scoring.

An inning later, Turnbull was an out away from overcoming a leadoff double from Franchy Cordero, having struck out Merrifield on a curveball with Cordero on third. Turnbull went back to the curveball on his first pitch to Mondesi, who laced it into the right-field corner for an RBI triple.

Mondesi’s leadoff double in the fifth inning, taking advantage of left fielder Christin Stewart’s arm, put Kansas City’s offense in motion once more, this time for the eventual deciding run. Mondesi took a big lead on Turnbull and stole third base without a throw, setting up Franco’s sacrifice fly two batters later.

The Tigers produced just four singles in six scoreless innings against Royals starter Brad Keller, but rallied against surprise reliever Danny Duffy in the seventh. Harold Castro’s leadoff single and Niko Goodrum’s double put two runners in scoring position and brought the potential tying run to the plate. Brandon Dixon’s pinch-hit groundout plated Castro, then Goodrum’s alert steal of third allowed him to score on Eric Haase’s sacrifice fly.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck’s Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.

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