Royals 12, Tigers 2: Michael Pineda and Jason Foley were rocked

Bless You Boys

Outside of Ryan Kreidler’s first major league hit, this was pretty much another atrocious game all around. Michael Pineda was awful, as was the bullpen, as the offense did little to help matters as the Kansas City Royals evened the series at a game apiece by trouncing the Tigers 12-2

Right from the start, Pineda had trouble locating anything consistently. Already confined to being a nibbler due to sub-par stuff, the right-hander didn’t spot his fastball well and the Royals had little trouble teeing off on him. Nick Pratto lifted a solo shot to left in the first inning, setting the tone for this one.

The Tigers had a chance to even the score when Riley Greene led off the bottom half of the first with a single. Willi Castro grounded into a force at second, taking first base and moving to second on a Javier Báez single. However, Harold Castro flew out, and Kerry Carpenter’s bliner off the label was handled by Bobby Witt Jr. at shortstop.

Pineda was better in the second inning, closing it with a three pitch dusting of Nate Eaton, and the Tigers did briefly tie things up. With one out, Spencer Torkelson drew a four-pitch walk and moved to third when Tucker Barnhart pulled a drive into the right field corner, sliding in just in the nick of time as Eaton whirled and threw a perfect strike to second base. Ryan Kreidler hit a fly ball into the left center field gap that was caught, but Torkelson scored with no trouble from third. That was Kreidler’s first RBI. There would be more firsts to come.

Unfortunately, the rally died there as Riley Greene grounded out first pitch to end the inning.

The wheels came off in the third for Pineda. Nicky Lopez got a first pitch meatball and ripped it to the wall in center field for a triple. Pineda walked MJ Melendez, who then stole second base on Pineda. That brought Witt to the dish, and in a 3-2 count he got a fastball and smoked it to left for a three-run shot. Pineda continued to struggle with location but managed to retire the next three in order.

In the fourth, Pineda got the first two outs and then fell apart as Eaton singled to left and stole second. Nicky Lopez drew a walk, and Melendez pulled a ground ball into right field to score Eaton. 5-1 Royals. Pineda’s pitch count was already deep into the 70’s, so he wasn’t going much further.

Meanwhile the third and fourth innings were quick ones for the Tigers’ offense against a pretty lackluster starter in Jonathan Heasley.

Jason Foley took over in the fifth and put together his worst outing of the year. Nick Pratto, Michael A. Taylor and Ryan O’Hearn all singled before Foley got the first out, striking out Hunter Dozier. Foley tried to start Kyle Isbel out with a first pitch slider, and Isbel smoked a line shot over the wall in the right field corner for a grand slam. 9-1 Royals. Daniel Norris took over and cleaned up the rest of the inning without much incident.

The home run was the first Foley had allowed since Mitch Haniger of the Seattle Mariners took him deep on June 10, 2021.

Speaking of rarities, Tucker Barnhart led off the bottom half of the fifth with a solo shot for his first home run of the season. Ryan Kreidler followed with a swinging bunt to Dozier at third, and he couldn’t quite get the handle on the ball. Not the most impressive first major league hit ever, but no doubt Kreidler will take it. Unfortunately it didn’t lead to any runs.

Melendez greeted Norris with a solo shot in the top of the sixth to make it 10-2. Carpenter led off the bottom half with a single, but was stranded as Jeimer Candelario, the designated hitter with Kreidler at third, lined out and Torkelson grounded into a double play. Can’t say anything at all looks different in Torkelson’s setup and swing, by the way. Still whiffing or popping up fastballs right down the middle. Not good.

Báez exited the game, probably just as a precaution as his glove hand had been clipped on a tag play at second earlier in the night. He’d stayed in the game, but with it long out of reach, AJ Hinch moved Kreidler to his natural position at shortstop, and Kody Clemens took over at third. Norris didn’t put them to work, allowing a Dozier double, wild pitching him to third, walking Isbel, and then allowing a double to left off the bat of Eaton. 12-2 Royals.

In the bottom half, Barnhart led off with a walk, putting together his best offensive performance of the year by far in a complete lost cause of a game. Kreidler followed with a single to right field for his second major league hit. Greene, having a brutal night at the plate, whiffed over a changeup to strike out on three pitches, while Willi Castro and Clemens flew out routinely.

Jose Cisnero took over from Norris in the top of the eighth and struck out a pair after a one-out walk to Pratto. His velocity was up to 95-96 consistently in this one, which was nice to see after shoulder issues cost him most of the season.

The Tigers went quickly in the bottom half, while Kody Clemens came in to pitch the top of the ninth, allowing an Eaton triple but no more.

Torkelson was hit by a pitch to open the ninth, but the Tigers went in order with Akil Baddoo pinch-hitting for Greene with two outs and striking out to mercifully end this one.

Notes

Miguel Cabrera’s strained left biceps will send him to the injured list. Apparently the Tigers want him back this year for some unfathomable reason, per AJ Hinch.

Josh Lester will be called up for a well deserved cup of coffee and should get some days in the DH spot. Lester is highly unlikely to do much of anything, but he’s been a good soldier on the farm for years and has had a good season powering the Toledo Mud Hens’ offense.

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