The Kansas City Royals ended the Detroit Tigers’ four-game winning streak on Friday.
The American League Central Division rivals will square off again in the second game of the three-game series in Detroit on Saturday.
Kansas City managed only five hits but came away with a 3-1 triumph on Friday as the Tigers left eight runners on base, hit into two double plays and had two runners tagged out on the basepaths. The Royals (70-83) have won three of their past four games.
“We put up some good at-bats and (Hunter Dozier) made a couple of plays in right field,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said. “Otherwise, the game’s completely different.”
Left-hander Tarik Skubal (8-12, 4.25 ERA) will start on Saturday for Detroit (74-79), but he won’t come close to finishing. He has been placed on a three-inning limit by Hinch.
The rookie has racked up 162 strikeouts in 142 innings. Skubal has pitched exactly three innings in each of his three starts this month. He gave up two runs on three hits at Tampa Bay on Sept. 18.
He has a 1-2 record with a 6.59 ERA in three outings against the Royals this season, and he is 1-4 with a 5.11 ERA in five games overall (three starts) against Kansas City. Salvador Perez has been a thorn in Skubal’s side, blasting three homers among five hits in 11 at-bats.
Perez went 0-for-4 and struck out twice in the first game of the series.
“He hit a couple of bullets and we were positioned pretty well,” Hinch said. “We’re not going to count him out very easily. We’ve got a couple more games (where) we need to handle him.”
Jon Heasley (0-1, 9.00 ERA) will get the ball Saturday for Kansas City after making his major league debut Sept. 17 against the Seattle Mariners. Heasley gave up four runs on six hits in four innings while throwing 75 pitches.
He relied on a fastball, changeup and curveball.
“I think he’s pretty fearless,” manager Mike Matheny said. “I think it’s something you need to experience, being on a major league field, making some good pitches and having some success and then learning from some of the ones that didn’t go his way. That stuff will play. Those are three above-average pitches.”
The 24-year-old right-hander was called up last week from Double-A Northwest Arkansas when Brady Singer went on the injured list.
Heasley wasn’t expecting to pitch in the majors this year, but the organization felt he had the makeup to handle it.
“I’m not surprised, just from what I do know about him and what the organization knows,” Matheny said. “That’s why you would do something like we did. Understand that this guy is going to come out and compete, not going to be overwhelmed.”
The Royals have won all four of their meetings with the Tigers since the All-Star break. They are playing the series without outfielder Michael Taylor, who was placed on the bereavement list. Kyle Isbel did a fine job filling in for him on Friday, as he contributed a double, a triple and a run from the No. 9 spot in the order.
Royals leadoff hitter Whit Merrifield drove in two runs, giving him 72 RBIs this season. He needs seven more in the last nine games to set a single-season career high.
–Field Level Media