Detroit — The Tigers were up 7-0 going into the top of the eighth inning against a Royals team that had lost eight straight.
And they did not secure the win. Not until Robbie Grossman lined a two-out, two-strike single to right field in the bottom of the ninth to give the Tigers a harder-than-it-should’ve been 8-7 win at Comerica Park on Tuesday.
The 7-0 lead evaporated quickly.
Jorge Soler knocked in six runs with two swings. He hit a three-run home run off reliever Joe Jimenez in the eighth. Jimenez, who has walked nine of the 15 batters he’s faced this season, set the table with a pair of walks.
Soler then hit a bases-clearing, three-run double off Jose Cisnero in the ninth, capping a four-run rally that tied the game.
With one run in, Cisnero struck out Carlos Santana with two on and one out. Then he got back-up catcher Sebastian Rivero to hit a ground ball to short that should have ended the game. But Niko Goodrum couldn’t field it cleanly and the bases were loaded for Soler.
He hit the first pitch to deep center field. Rookie Akil Baddoo tracked it and seemed to run it down on the warning track. But the ball came out of his glove as he made contact with the wall.
All three runs scored.
The Tigers had parlayed a string of softly-struck singles and a pair of walks into a four-run fourth inning and got a three-run triple by Robbie Grossman in the fifth to build the 7-0 lead.
It was a scoreless game, a pitcher’s duel between Matthew Boyd and the Royals Brady Singer, when Jonathan Schoop led off the bottom of the fourth with sinking liner to center. The ball left his bat with an exit velocity of 109.5 mph. Center fielder Michael A. Taylor took a bad angle to the ball and it got by him all the way to the wall.
That was the last hard-hit ball of the inning, but Tigers runners kept circling the bases. Willi Castro, Baddoo and Grayson Greiner, the bottom of manager AJ Hinch’s batting order, all dropped RBI singles in front of Royals outfielders.
The exit velocities on the three singles – 77.7, 75.3 and 63.8 mph.
A sacrifice fly by Robbie Grossman closed the scoring and a single by Harold Castro (79.3 mph off the bat) chased Singer from the game. The Tigers had scored just four runs off Singer in 28 innings off him going back to last year. They matched that in the fourth.
Killed him softly.
And it seemed like more than enough cushion, especially the way Boyd pitched.
Boyd, who hadn’t made a start in 11 days working through left knee tendinitis, pitched six scoreless innings. He allowed just four hits and only two runners to advance into scoring position. He struck out five.
It was his fifth quality start out of seven, and he’s allowed two runs or less in six of them. His ERA is 1.94.
The Tigers also finished the game with one healthy catcher.
Already without starting catcher Wilson Ramos (lumbar strain), Grayson Greiner was pulled out of the game after the top of the fifth inning with a left hamstring strain. Jake Rogers finished the game.
Ramos is on target to come off the injured list on Monday.