The Detroit Tigers scored four runs in the fourth inning to chase Kansas City Royals starter Brady Singer, a first-round pick in the 2018 draft. As the offense surged, left-hander Matthew Boyd delivered a heavy dose of strikes in his return from left knee tendinitis for six scoreless innings.
Behind strong at-bats and Boyd’s dominance, the Tigers climbed to a 7-0 lead entering the eighth inning. But relievers Joe Jimenez and Jose Cisnero — along with an error from shortstop Niko Goodrum — allowed the Royals to score three runs in the eighth and four more in the ninth to tie the game.
The Tigers (11-24) managed to squeeze out an 8-7 win over the Royals in Tuesday’s series opener at Comerica Park. Robbie Grossman delivered a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning, scoring Goodrum. Detroit has won back-to-back games for the first time since April 13-14 against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
Kansas City has dropped nine games in a row.
In the seventh, Alex Lange tossed a six-pitch scoreless frame, but Kansas City tagged Jimenez for three runs in the eighth. He walked two, struck out two, allowed a three-run homer to Jorge Soler and gave up a single to Andrew Benintendi.
Manager AJ Hinch turned to Kyle Funkhouser for the final out in the eighth. He completed his task in four pitches. In the ninth, Cisnero allowed an RBI single to Ryan O’Hearn before Goodrum’s fielding error wioth two outs kept the inning alive.
Then, Soler punched a three-RBI double off center fielder Akil Baddoo’s glove to tie the game.
Catcher Grayson Greiner departed in the fifth inning with left hamstring tightness. His replacement, Jake Rogers, went 1-for-3 with a single. The offense combined for eight runs on 12 hits and six walks, with nine strikeouts, and went 5-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
The second game of the series is at 7:10 p.m. Wednesday. Right-hander Casey Mize is starting for the Tigers, opposed by left-hander Danny Duffy. Through six starts this season, Duffy has a 1.26 ERA, 10 walks and 40 strikeouts.
The last start Boyd made was April 29 against the Chicago White Sox. He removed himself from the game in the second inning after 34 pitches and was diagnosed with left knee tendinitis. He missed his start against the Boston Red Sox but didn’t need a stint on the injured list.
In his return to the rotation, Boyd was electric. He pitched six scoreless innings, allowing just four hits and two walks, with five strikeouts. He threw 59 of his 92 pitches for strikes, and his ERA dropped to 1.94 across seven starts.
Boyd struck out Benintendi looking with a curveball in the sixth to conclude his quality start. He got five ground outs, including inning-ending double plays from Salvador Perez and Whit Merrifield in the third and fifth, respectively.
Boyd needed 13 pitches in the first inning, 19 in the second, 11 in the third, 21 in the fourth, eight in the fifth and 20 in the sixth. He generated seven swings-and-misses and 11 called strikes.
The Tigers put five consecutive batters on base in the fourth inning, starting with Jonathan Schoop’s leadoff triple. The next four batters — Goodrum (walk), Willi Castro (single), Baddoo (single) and Greiner (single) — reached to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead.
Then, Robbie Grossman knocked a sacrifice fly to left field, driving in Baddoo for a four-run edge. The next batter, Harold Castro, singled on a line drive to right field to officially chase Singer. He left runners on first and second base for reliever Tyler Zuber.
Singer allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks, with four strikeouts, in 3⅓ innings.
Zuber walked Miguel Cabrera to load the bases but retired Nomar Mazara and Schoop for the final two outs to escape further damage. The Tigers tacked on three more runs for a 7-0 lead in the fifth inning on a bases-clearing triple from Grossman against reliever Jake Brentz to score Goodrum, Willi Castro and Baddoo.
Entering Tuesday, Singer had a 1.44 ERA with three walks and 24 strikeouts in four starts against the Tigers in his career. Facing the Tigers on April 24, the 24-year-old tossed seven innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 victory.
On the fourth pitch of the game, Harold Castro took away a hit from Merrifield. The ball came off his bat at 81.8 mph, and Castro made a diving, back-handed stop. He popped to his feet and threw across the diamond to Cabrera at first base, beating Merrifield.
Castro started at third base because Jeimer Candelario felt side effects from his second COVID-19 vaccine shot. Castro has played seven positions this season: First base (10 games), second base (five), left field (two), center field (one), shortstop (one), third base (one) and pitcher (one).
Through 20 games, Castro has a .313 batting average. Against the Royals, he went 2-for-5. He continues to carve out playing time after being one of the last players to make the big-league roster out of spring training.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.