The Detroit Tigers came into this one looking to make it six wins in a row and consecutive sweeps over division opponents. With the pitching matchup in their favor the chances of taking down the Royals seemed pretty good, and so it played out on a sunny autumn afternoon at Comerica Park.
Eduardo Rodriguez got the ball in this one and he was very solid, if not particularly dominant. The lefty got in a little trouble with a single and then a two-out walk allowed, but got Edward Olivares to ground out to end the top of the first. The Tigers went quickly as well, but after Rodriguez spun a quick second inning with just a single allowed, Willi Castro got them on the board first with a solo shot to right center field off Jonathan Heasley.
In the third, Rodriguez got the first two outs quickly, but then fielded a comebacker off the bat of Salvador Perez and babied the toss, throwing it well wide of first and pulling Harold Castro off the bag. A mistake like that often leads to another, and Vinnie Pasquantino nearly made him pay, smoking a line drive off the right field wall. However, neither Perez nor Pasquantino runs well, and Willi Castro made a nice play to take it off the wall on a hop and fire a strike into second base. Pasquantino had to hold up with a loud single, while Perez had to stop at third base. An Olivares fly out to Castro in right ended the inning.
Tucker Barnhart led off the bottom of the third with a single, but the Tigers went in order from there. Michael A. Taylor would single in the top of the fourth, but otherwise Rodriguez really had no trouble. His command was sharp and he mixed in the cutter effectively while spotting his fastball in and out.
In the bottom of the fourth, Heasley hit Jonathan Schoop and then gave up a double to Willi Castro. Unfortunately, Castro pulled a hamstring as he raced to second base. He was lifted for Victor Reyes, and Jeimer Candelario flew out to squander the scoring opportunity.
Willi Castro left today’s game with a left hamstring strain.
— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) September 29, 2022
Rodriguez continued to thrive in the top of the fifth. He set down MJ Melendez and Bobby Witt Jr. on routine ground balls, and then popped up Perez for an expeditious inning of work. He sat at 67 pitches thrown through five innings of scoreless work.
Heasley walked Barnhart to start the bottom of the fifth, and it felt like the wheels were coming off. The right-hander had lived dangerously, with precious few whiffs over the four previous innings. When he wild pitched Barnhart to second, the Tigers were set to take advantage.
First, Ryan Kreidler struck out, marking Heasley’s first punchout of the day. However Akil Baddoo then reached on an error on Pasquantino, and Barnhart was able to score from second to make it 2-0 Tigers. Riley Greene followed, and after battling into a full count, Heasley tried to drop a curveball at the bottom of the zone for strike three. Greene had other ideas, ripping a line drive to right center for an RBI double to score Baddoo from first.
Heasley next got ahead of DH Javier Báez 0-2, but then made a huge mistake dumping in a belt-high curveball and watching the Tigers shortstop destroy it to left for his team leading 16th shot of the season. 5-0 Tigers.
They weren’t quite done yet, either. Harold Castro grounded out, but Jonathan Schoop dropped a double into left via some Royals miscommunication, and that ended Heasley’s outing. The Royals turned to Taylor Clarke to finally smother the Tigers’ rally. He struck out Victor Reyes to end the inning.
All this did little to wake up the Royals’ offense. Rodriguez racked up a pair of quick ground ball outs before Hunter Dozier tripled to left. It added up to nothing as Taylor flew out to end the inning. Rodriguez had only punched out three himself, but he continued to get tons of weak contact for outs, and was through six scoreless with five hits and a walk allowed.
The Tigers got right back at it in the bottom of the sixth. Jeimer Candelario greeted new reliever Brad Keller by hammering a slider for a double. A Barnhart ground ball found its way over Witt’s glove into center field and Candy scored to make it 6-0. Keller retired the side from there, and Rodriguez was probably happy not to have to wait through another long rally already holding six runs in hand.
Nate Eaton walked to lead off the seventh, but Rodriguez got a double play ball off the bat of Nicky Lopez to erase him. Lopez grounded it straight to Castro at first, who stepped on the bag and fired down to Kreidler to complete the double play. MJ Melendez walked with two outs as Rodriguez nibbling around the corners routine got a little out of whack. Chris Fetter came out to pay a visit, but Rodriguez locked into a lengthy battle against Witt, but walked him as well. That was the end of his outing as AJ Hinch turned to Jason Foley, who got Perez to ground out to end the inning with no runs allowed.
Max Castillo took over for the Royals in the bottom half of the seventh. Báez greeted him with a single, and thus shaken, the right-hander proceeded to do the impossible. He walked both Harold Castro and Jonathan Schoop back-to-back. That was enough for Mike Matheny, who turned to Luke Weaver instead. That didn’t go any better as Weaver promptly hit Victor Reyes on the hand to force in a run. A Candelario sacrifice fly scored Castro from third, and Barnhart followed with a double to right to score Schoop, and it was 9-0 Tigers, still with only one out recorded in the inning.
Weaver then locked up with Ryan Kreidler, who fouled off six straight pitches before finally getting a juicy slider right down the middle and singling to left to score Reyes and send Barnhart to third. 10-0, Tigers. Cue up the Bugs Bunny conga line on the basepaths clip for a visual representation of this inning. Finally, Akil Baddoo popped out for the second out of the frame. AJ Hinch decided to pull Riley Greene at this point, inserting Kody Clemens to pinch hit. Clemens just wrapped up the Triple-A season with the Mud Hens on Wednesday afternoon. He flew out, mercifully ending the inning.
Finally in the top of the eighth, the Royals broke through against Foley. A Pasquantino single was followed by a walk to Drew Waters, and Ryan O’Hearn, hitting for Dozier, plated them both with a double. 10-2, Tigers. Kyle Isbel pinch hit for Taylor and popped out for the first out of the inning. Nate Eaton doubled in O’Hearn, and the wheels on the Foley train were looking extremely shaky again. Hinch turned to Angel de Jesus instead, and he promptly cleaned up the mess with two quick outs. 10-3, Tigers.
The Tigers went quickly in the bottom half apart from a Schoop single, and so it was last call for the Royals. De Jesus allowed a Witt leadoff single, but retired the next three in order to wrap up the sweep.