Tigers can’t repeat slam feat against KC

Detroit Tigers

While Tigers officials spent Saturday wondering if they were looking at a glimpse of the future in their farm system, Miguel Cabrera had to wonder if he was living out Groundhog Day.

One day after Cabrera hit a grand slam as part of a two-homer game, there he stood again in the batter’s box, a full count with the bases loaded and the chance to power his team ahead. The pitcher was different, but the pitch was the same. This time, Scott Barlow froze Cabrera with a slider over the plate. And on a day when the Tigers’ top two prospects both homered, Detroit missed its chance at a big blow in a 7-5 loss at Kauffman Stadium that ended a four-game winning streak.

For the future, it was a good day. While top prospect Spencer Torkelson hit his first professional home run for High-A West Michigan at Wisconsin, No. 2 prospect Riley Greene hit his third homer in as many games for Double-A Erie, continuing week-long tears for both. For the present-day Tigers, it was a day of missed opportunities.

While the Royals picked apart starter Matthew Boyd for five runs in as many innings, including three RBIs for Andrew Benintendi, Detroit stayed close with a similar small-ball attack fueled by a two-run single from Akil Baddoo and an RBI single for Harold Castro. But two walks — one from Singer, the other from Barlow — and a Robbie Grossman single served up the middle of the order with a chance at another rally.

Four of Detroit’s five hitters in the seventh worked three-ball counts, including full counts from the final three. Castro declined to chase a slider in the dirt or a fastball up and away, drawing a walk and loading the bases with one out.

Jeimer Candelario used the same approach to work the count full out of a 1-2 hole, but Barlow spotted a 3-2 slider on the outside corner for a called third strike. It’s the same fate he suffered with the bases loaded in the seventh inning on Friday night against Tyler Zuber.

Instead of turning to veteran Greg Holland to face Cabrera like they did on Friday, the Royals stuck with Barlow, who could not get Cabrera to chase off the plate for a 3-1 count. A pitch away from walking in a run, Barlow got a swing and miss from Cabrera with a high, inside fastball to run the count back full. Then, he used the slider to finish him off.

The two came up again in the ninth with a chance to erase Detroit’s deficit after Grossman’s two-run homer and Harold Castro’s ensuing single brought the potential tying run to the plate with none out.

Candelario worked hard-throwing Josh Staumont for a nine-pitch walk, fouling off three consecutive fastballs to extend the at-bat. With Holland warming in the bullpen, the Royals stuck with Staumont against Cabrera, who swung at a first-pitch fastball up and in and flied out to right. Jonathan Schoop and Willi Castro also struck out to end the game.

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