No matter what the KC Royals do in Detroit this afternoon, their position in the American League Central won’t change much. They’ll still be in fourth place, 3.5 games ahead of the cellar-dwelling Tigers if they win, or 1.5 games ahead of Detroit if they lose.
But considering the Royals have no place to go in the standings but down—they won’t make up the 12.5 games they’re behind Chicago—maintaining the status quo isn’t such a bad thing. Kansas City, after all, has nothing to play for standings-wise except staying out of the Central basement.
And things could be worse. The Royals arrived in Detroit 2.5 games ahead of their hosts, but their Friday night loss to the Tigers allowed Detroit to creep within 1.5 games of them, and losses Saturday night and today would have dumped KC into last place, somewhere they haven’t been for a full month.
Fortunately, Kansas City will head home after today’s series finale still looking down into the cellar, not up from it. That much was assured when the club manhandled the Tigers 12-2 at Comerica Park Saturday night.
It was the kind of game these Royals rarely play, a blowout with contributions from everyone in the starting lineup. And winning it was easy almost from the start.
The KC Royals had Saturday’s game with Detroit won after the third inning.
Had it not been for the run the Tigers scored in the second inning, and the other they managed in the fifth, Kansas City would have put this game away in the first via rookie Nick Pratto’s solo home run. But the club’s wait for the winning margin wasn’t long—Bobby Witt Jr. hammered the 20th homer of his rookie season in the third, a three-run shot that gave the Royals a lead they wouldn’t surrender.
But the rookies who’ve finally been allowed to play such a major collective role on this club weren’t satisfied that small 4-1 lead … or just two home runs.
Rookie Kyle Isbel (yes, he made it to the majors last year, but didn’t play enough to lose his rookie status) struck next, driving a Jason Foley slider that just cleared the wall in right for a grand slam:
Isbel’s fourth homer came at a time when he needs every important hit he can get and boosted his club’s lead to 9-1.
And rookie MJ Melendez, who drove in a run with a single in the fourth, added his 15th homer an inning later to give him a chance to join Witt in the 20-home run club.
Nate Eaton concluded Kansas City’s scoring, and his own big night, with a two-run double in the seventh. Combined with that double, a triple and a pair of singles, Eaton went 4-for-5.
Good nights at the plate weren’t limited to the rookies, though. Every hitter who started the game had at least one hit (Witt with three, and Melendez with two, joined Eaton for multi-hit performances) and each scored at least once.
Jonathan Heasley had the start he and the KC Royals have long waited for.
Even with 12 runs, the Royals couldn’t have won this one without good pitching, and that’s exactly what beleaguered starter Jonathan Heasley gave them in his 16th start of the season.
Heasley threw seven innings for only the second time this year, surrendered no more than two runs in a start of at least six frames for only the third time, and won his second game in a row. He’s now 3-7 and pushed his ERA (4.98) below 5.00 for the first time since Independence Day.
This afternoon’s game is set to begin at 12:40 p.m. CDT.