Detroit Tigers set franchise record with nine pitchers in 10-3 win over Kansas City Royals

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For the third game in a row, the Detroit Tigers relied heavily on their bullpen.

Starter Jose Urena couldn't make it out of the second inning in Saturday's loss to the Chicago White Sox, and manager AJ Hinch implemented a scheduled bullpen game for Sunday's loss to the ChiSox in the series finale.

In Monday's 10-3 win over the Kansas City Royals, starting pitcher Matthew Boyd departed with one out in the third inning because of left arm discomfort. Once again, the Tigers (27-39) turned to their relievers to complete the final 6⅔ innings.

The Tigers needed nine pitchers — eight relievers — to get through nine innings. They set a franchise record for most pitchers used in a nine-inning game. The Royals finished 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

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Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Matthew Boyd (48) comes out of a baseball game after talking to manager A.J. Hinch (14) during the third inning at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, on Monday, June 14, 2021.
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Matthew Boyd (48) comes out of a baseball game after talking to manager A.J. Hinch (14) during the third inning at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, on Monday, June 14, 2021.

Boyd gave the Tigers a strong start, throwing 41 pitches (29 strikes) to complete 2⅓ scoreless innings. All five hits off him were singles. He didn't issue a walk and struck out two batters. His replacement, Joe Jimenez, stranded two runners by striking out Salvador Perez and getting Jorge Soler to pop out to end the third inning.

In the fifth inning, reliever Alex Lange departed with right shoulder discomfort. He got one out and fired 16 pitches (eight strikes) before athletic trainer Doug Teter trotted to the mound. After a brief conversation, Lange walked off the mound.

From the bullpen, the Tigers used Jimenez (two outs), Jason Foley (three outs), Lange (one out), Kyle Funkhouser (two outs), Buck Farmer (two outs), Jose Cisnero (four outs), Michael Fulmer (three outs) and Daniel Norris (three outs) to get the final 20 outs of the game. Foley, Lange and Farmer each allowed one run, but the others posted zeros on the scoreboard.

Early runs

Luckily for the bullpen, the Tigers controlled a 4-0 lead when Boyd departed. They scored those four runs against Royals starter Brad Keller in the first inning. A fielding error by third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez gave the Tigers their first run, and Miguel Cabrera won an 11-pitch battle with a single up the middle for a 2-0 lead.

It took Keller 22 pitches to record his first out.

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Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers is congratulated by Akil Baddoo and Jonathan Schoop after scoring during the 1st inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, on Monday, June 14, 2021.
Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers is congratulated by Akil Baddoo and Jonathan Schoop after scoring during the 1st inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, on Monday, June 14, 2021.

The Tigers loaded the bases for Niko Goodrum, who singled to center field. His swing plated Jonathan Schoop and Miguel Cabrera. The inning ended, however, when Akil Baddoo grounded into a double play.

Keller eventually settled in to give the Royals five innings, but he allowed seven runs (six earned) on seven hits and one walk. Still, the 28-pitch first inning hampered him. He ended his start with 100 pitches (62 strikes) and five strikeouts.

More runs

Willi Castro delivered two more runs against Keller in the fourth inning, just after Boyd walked into the clubhouse to get an evaluation on his left arm. He smoked a changeup — following a Baddoo single — for a two-run homer.

The ball traveled 418 feet to right field.

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The Tigers scored an additional run in the fifth inning for a 7-1 lead. Cabrera singled to right field, and Eric Haase doubled to center field to put runners on second and third. Cabrera then tagged up and scored easily on Nomar Mazara's sacrifice fly.

Goodrum took Ervin Santana deep for a home run and an 8-3 edge in the eighth inning. It was his fifth home run in 2021. Robbie Grossman crushed a solo home run in the ninth inning, and Cabrera tacked on an RBI single for a seven-run lead.

Bullpen allows three runs

Foley replaced Jimenez to pitch the fourth inning, and he gave up back-to-back hits with two outs. After Edward Olivares' single, Hanser Alberto doubled to left field for Kansas City's first run. Foley, in his third MLB appearance, threw 14 of 21 pitches for strikes.

In the fifth, Lange walked Whit Merrifield, worked a groundout and then allowed a Perez single, which scored Kansas City's second run. Perez's hit was followed by Soler's double. That's when Lange's injury forced Hinch to pick another arm.

Hinch chose Funkhouser, who started Sunday's bullpen game and continues to shine for the organization. He walked Hunter Dozier to load the bases and escaped the jam by retiring the next two batters, including a full-count strikeout against Gutierrez.

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Kyle Funkhouser throws to a Kansas City batter during the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, on Monday, June 14, 2021.
Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Kyle Funkhouser throws to a Kansas City batter during the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, on Monday, June 14, 2021.

The runners advanced to second and third against Farmer with one out in the sixth inning. He attacked Carlos Santana with a 95 mph fastball on a 3-2 count and produced a strikeout. But he followed that with a walk to Perez to load the bases. It took Farmer 26 pitches (15 strikes) to record two outs.

Cisnero inherited Farmer's bases-loaded mess. He walked Soler to cut the Royals' deficit to 7-3, but recorded the final out to avoid further damage. The veteran righty then pitched a scoreless seventh inning by stranding Gutierrez on third base. He tossed 15 of 26 pitches for strikes.

Activated from the injured list just two hours before Monday's game, Fulmer took over for the eighth inning and kept the Royals from scoring. Merrifield started with a leadoff single, but Santana struck out and Perez grounded into a double play. Of Fulmer's 11 pitches, seven went for strikes.

Norris pitched the ninth inning.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers use nine pitchers in 10-3 win over Kansas City Royals