KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—The Kansas City Royals came through with a victory for their home fans—though there weren’t many of them.
The Royals, who have lost 99 games, drew an announced attendance of 8,915 for the opener of their final homestand of the season. That is the smallest crowd to see a Royals’ home game since July 5, 1995, when 7,511 watched them play Boston.
“The reasons why the fans aren’t out here are the type of season we’ve had, the time of year it is, not in the race, knocking on 100 losses,” catcher John Buck said. “I think that’s why people are not going to make the sacrifice to stay up late on a school night cause it is not real meaningful.”
Buck is grateful for the fans who still do come.
“People recognize that we may get beat, but our Kansas City Royals fans recognize we are playing hard regardless of the outcome,” he said. “It is good to have baseball fans, even if it’s 8,000 that showed up. They know the game and appreciate it that we’re playing hard.”
The Tigers are 4-15 in September, and with 82 losses are assured of their 12th consecutive losing season.
“We could have easily rolled over, after their home run in the first inning and said, ‘Here we go again,’ “ Stairs said. “We had some good at-bats in the first inning. When you score three runs in the first inning that is nice. It takes pressure off the offense.”
Mike Wood (5-7) was 0-3 in four starts before earning his first victory since Aug. 20, when he helped snap the Royals’ franchise-record 19-game losing streak. He is 2-3 in eight starts since moving into the rotation on Aug. 9.
Wood gave up four runs and eight hits, including home runs by Carlos Pena and Chris Shelton, in 5 2-3 innings before being replaced by rookie reliever Ambiorix Burgos. He walked one and struck out four.
“I did give up four and a couple of big homers, but my offense did the job today hitting and the defense of course did it again,” Wood said. “I need to keep down a little bit better. I got some balls up. Pena’s was a fastball on the corner, but it was up. He got extension. I haven’t seen a ball hit that far in a while. I got away with a bunch. They popped some up. Overall, I have to work knees down, that’s my goal.”
The Royals scored three more runs in the fifth and chased Tigers starter Jeremy Bonderman (14-13). The inning included doubles by Stairs, Berroa and Mark Teahen. Buck contributed a run-scoring single.
“I didn’t have any movement on my sinker and I left some balls over the plate,” Bonderman said. “My pitches were flat all day. It’s frustrating. I’ve pitched well at times lately. Other times I haven’t. There’s been no consistency whatsoever. I haven’t pitched well enough to give us a chance to win.”
Bonderman gave up seven runs and 11 hits in 4 2-3 innings. He has lost four straight starts and seven of eight.
“I don’t think Jeremy was sharp,” Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. “Velocity-wise he was fine, but location he was not. He didn’t have it. We got pounded. Honestly, it could have been worse. We scored in three innings and all three times we gave up runs. It’s another nail in the coffin for a team that is already kind of fragile. It was not pretty.”
The Royals added a run in the sixth, which Aaron Guiel led off with a double and scored on a Sweeney single.
Pena homered with Shelton aboard in the sixth. Pena has 11 home runs and 24 RBIs in 26 games since being recalled on Aug. 17.
Rodriguez threw out Blanco trying to steal second base to end the second inning. Rodriguez tops American League catchers by throwing out 44.8 percent of attempted base stealers. … 2B Polanco returned to the Detroit lineup after not starting the prior two games with a sore shoulder. … The Royals play their next seven games at home. They are 4-22 in their past 26 road games. The Royals were outscored 170-94, the pitching staff had a 6.43 ERA and opponents hit .314 during those games.