Tigers 7, Royals 5
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—While winning a wild ballgame, Detroit lost a valuable pitcher before he could even get onto the field.
Joel Zumaya, whose fastball can exceed 100 mph, was warming up in the bullpen during Saturday night’s 7-5 victory over Kansas City when he “felt something pop” in the middle knuckle of his pitching hand. He was hurried to the hospital and later put on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right finger.
“He threw a pitch in the bullpen, a fastball, and this joint, this (middle) knuckle, he felt something pop,” manager Jim Leyland said immediately after the game. “He’s being checked out at the hospital.”
The Tigers recalled right-hander Aquilino Lopez, who made three appearances for Detroit last month before being sent back to Triple-A Toledo.
A key member of the bullpen, Zumaya is 1-1 with a 3.63 ERA in 17 1-3 innings for the defending AL champions.
“I don’t want to make any comments yet because I don’t want to be premature,” Leyland said. “But I can tell you this, if it is a situation where we’ve lost Joel for a period of time, then that tests the character of your team and other guys have to step up.”
In 6 1-3 innings with the Tigers, Zquilino had no record and a 5.69 ERA.
Craig Monroe hit a tiebreaking two-run single in the eighth to lift the Tigers to their sixth straight victory.
Magglio Ordonez, who homered in the sixth for Detroit, doubled home the tying run off Joaquim Soria in the eighth.
Placido Polanco singled off Brandon Duckworth (0-2) with one out and then went all the way to third when Duckworth’s wild pitch bounced so crazily off the backstop first baseman Ross Gload had to retrieve it. Duckworth wound up on the ground but apparently was not hurt.
In the eighth and ninth, Royals’ right fielder Mark Teahen tied an American League record with two outfield assists to the plate. He made a strong throw to home to get Carlos Guillen trying to score on a fly ball out in the eighth.
Teahen, Bell said, “is running his routes a lot better.”
“Really, he’s only had one full month in the outfield,” he said.
In the sixth, Teahen, who converted to the outfield from third base this year, threw out Marcus Thames trying to stretch a double into a triple. The three outfield assists tied the Royals’ record set in their expansion year in 1969.
The Royals took a 4-1 lead off Mike Maroth on home runs by Mike Sweeney, Esteban German and Jason LaRue. But the bullpen frittered away the lead and Jose Mesa (1-1), the fourth Tigers pitcher, got one out for the win.
Todd Jones pitched the ninth for his league-leading 12th save in 14 opportunities.
“Duckworth caught his spike,” said Royals manager Buddy Bell. “The walk to Thamas was the biggest at-bat of the eighth inning.”
It was tied 4-all in the sixth when Tony Pena Jr. singled and scored the go-ahead run when Maroth, Jason Grilli and Wilfredo Ledezma issued walks to successive batters. Ledezma then got Sweeney to line out to left to end the inning.
Maroth had his poorest outing of the year, giving up seven hits and five runs in 5 2-3 innings. He walked four and had no strikeouts.
Royals starter Odalis Perez did not give up a hit until Carlos Guillen’s RBI single into right-center with two out in the fourth scored Thames, who had reached with a walk. Perez gave up four runs, seven hits and two walks in six innings.
The Tigers made it 4-2 in the fifth when Monroe scored from third on a double-play grounder. Detroit tied the score in the sixth on an RBI double by Thames, who was thrown out by Teahen trying for third, and Ordonez’s fifth home run.
“It’s the big leagues,” said Monroe. “They’re going to make plays. I think if you continue to grind out the at-bats and focus on what you’re doing, good things happen. That’s what happened to us today.”
Sweeney, playing first base for the first time since Aug. 28, 2005, hit Maroth’s 3-1 pitch 412 feet over the fence in left after David DeJesus led off the Royals’ first with a single. His 193rd home run tied Amos Otis for second on the Royals list.
German homered in the third and then LaRue, snapping an 0-for-16 streak, put the Royals on top 4-1 in the fourth.
Royals’ 2B Mark Grudzielanek was back after missing four games with a stiff back. … The Royals lead the major leagues with 26 hit batsmen. … The Tigers have an extra-base hit in 17 straight games.