Advertisement

Sixth-inning nightmare haunts Detroit Tigers in 8-3 loss to Kansas City Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Joey Wentz didn't record an out.

Wentz, a left-handed reliever, entered for the sixth inning and surrendered five of six runs to the Kansas City Royals, as the Detroit Tigers lost, 8-3, in Monday's opener of a three-game series at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals teed off on Wentz's fastball.

The Tigers dropped to 23-24, falling below a .500 record for the second time this season, while the Royals improved to 30-19. It's only late May, but the Tigers are slipping in the American League Central and now trail the first-place Cleveland Guardians, at 31-17, by seven games.

ACE VS. ACE: Tarik Skubal, Cole Ragans have 'nothing but respect' for each other ahead of first matchup

Tigers pitcher Reese Olson pitches during the first inning against the Royals on Monday, May 20, 2024, in Kansas City, Missouri.
Tigers pitcher Reese Olson pitches during the first inning against the Royals on Monday, May 20, 2024, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Right-handed reliever Will Vest replaced Wentz and surrendered the sixth run in the sixth inning, but he recorded all three outs — something Wentz couldn't accomplish — and stranded a runner on third base with a strikeout.

The damage in the sixth began with Salvador Perez crushing Wentz's 10th-pitch fastball at the bottom of the strike zone, increasing the Royals' lead to 3-1.

Wentz fell behind 3-0 in the count to Perez, then battled back for a full count, but Perez returned the favor by fouling four pitches in a row to extend the at-bat long enough to find a pitch to hit in his hot zone.

Perez hit the ball 436 feet to left-center field with a 109.1 mph exit velocity.

The next four batters got hits off Wentz, as well: Michael Massey (double), Freddy Fermin (RBI single), MJ Melendez (single) and Hunter Renfroe (two-RBI double). The first three hits — Perez, Massey, Fermin — were on fastballs.

Wentz left a runner on third base and no outs for Vest.

Maikel Garcia pushed the Royals' lead to 7-1 with a single and Vinnie Pasquantino extended it to 8-1. Vest escaped further damage by striking out Perez to end the sixth inning.

[ MUST LISTEN: Make "Days of Roar" your go-to Detroit Tigers podcast, available anywhere you listen to podcasts (Apple, Spotify) ]

The Royals scored their first two runs off right-hander Reese Olson, who exited in the third inning with a right hip contusion after throwing 52 pitches. A comebacker from Michael Massey, which led to the Royals' second run once catcher Jake Rogers threw the ball away, drilled Olson in the hip and forced his departure.

Massey also hit Olson's fastball for a solo home run in the second inning for a 1-0 lead. The long ball snapped Olson's streak of 54 innings without allowing a home run.

Colt Keith's three hits not enough

The bullpen blew up, but rookie second baseman Colt Keith continued to build upon his recent success at the plate. He had four hits in Friday's series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and in Monday's opener against the Royals, the 22-year-old collected three hits in four plate appearances.

He had two singles and one double.

THE KID CAN PLAY: Tigers' Wenceel Pérez is proving it's possible for rookies to hit in big leagues

In the seventh inning, Keith pulled a fastball from right-hander Michael Wacha on the ground and into right field for an RBI double, cutting the Tigers' deficit to 8-2.

Tigers right fielder Kerry Carpenter celebrates his home run with teammates in the dugout during the fourth inning against the Royals on Monday, May 20, 2024, in Kansas City, Missouri.
Tigers right fielder Kerry Carpenter celebrates his home run with teammates in the dugout during the fourth inning against the Royals on Monday, May 20, 2024, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Keith hit a fastball to right field for a leadoff single in the third inning and a changeup to right field for a leadoff single in the fifth inning. He hit those balls with a 109.4 mph exit velocity and a 108.4 mph exit velocity, respectively.

In his past 10 games, Keith is hitting .406 (13-for-32) with one walk and four strikeouts in 32 plate appearances. Seven of those 13 hits, though, occurred in two of the 10 games.

The Tigers scored their first run in the fourth inning on Kerry Carpenter's 430-foot solo home run to left-center field off Wacha's fastball. Carpenter also drove in the Tigers' third and final run, making it 8-3, with a long sacrifice fly in the eighth inning.

Spencer Torkelson grounded out to strand the bases loaded in the eighth inning. He worked a full count against right-handed reliever Chris Stratton but bounced a sixth-pitch changeup to second base for an easy out.

Javier Báez returns to old habits

Veteran shortstop Javier Báez, carrying a .204 batting average this season, looked like he was in his prime as he raked throughout the weekend series against the Diamondbacks, hitting .615 (8-for-13) with four doubles and seven RBIs.

He wasn't the same player in the series opener in Kansas City, finishing 0-for-4 with four groundouts.

JEFF SEIDEL: Why Detroit is gonna love Tigers prospect Kevin McGonigle: First and foremost, he can hit

Báez grounded into double plays in the third and fifth innings, immediately after Keith's singles. He also grounded out to end the seventh inning, following Keith's double. He added another groundout in the ninth inning.

Wacha, who started for the Royals, allowed two runs on six hits and one walk with three strikeouts, throwing 89 pitches. He relied heavily his changeup and fastball.

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him @EvanPetzold.

Listen to our weekly Tigers show "Days of Roar" every Monday afternoon on demand at freep.com, AppleSpotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. And catch all of our podcasts and daily voice briefing at freep.com/podcasts.

Next up: Royals

Matchup: Tigers (23-24) at Kansas City (30-19).

First pitch: 7:40 p.m. Tuesday; Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri.

TV/radio: Bally Sports Detroit; WXYT-FM (97.1).

Probable pitchers: Tigers — RHP Casey Mize (1-2, 3.50 ERA); Royals — RHP Alec Marsh (3-1, 2.43).

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers' sixth inning costs them in 8-3 loss to K.C. Royals