KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Drew Smyly picked up where fellow Tigers starter Rick Porcello left off, tossing seven shutout innings and leading Detroit to a 9-2 rout of the Kansas City Royals on Saturday night.
Porcello and the Tigers bullpen retired the final 18 hitters in an 8-2 victory the previous night, and Smyly (2-1) retired the first four he faced. After a issuing a walk to Alex Gordon, the former reliever then retired the next six in a dominant performance.
Smyly wound up allowing two hits and two walks before giving way to Joba Chamberlain, who threw a perfect eighth. Phil Coke allowed two runs in the ninth to lose the shutout.
Nick Castellanos drove in three runs the Tigers, the first off spot starter Danny Duffy (1-2) and two more off the Royals’ bullpen. That was it until the ninth, when Detroit tacked on six more runs, the highlight a three-run shot by Torii Hunter.
The win was the Tigers’ fifth straight over Kansas City.
Duffy moved from the bullpen back to the rotation in place of Bruce Chen, who went on the disabled list this week with a bulging disc in his back. Duffy was on a pitch count and wound up lasting just four innings, allowing two hits and walking four while throwing 75 pitches.
Kansas City played without catcher Salvador Perez, who was given the night off after fouling a pitch off his shin in the series opener. Royals manager Ned Yost said he expects the All-Star to be back in the lineup Sunday – though they sure could have used his bat in this one.
The only hits the Royals could muster off Smyly came on Eric Hosmer’s double in the fourth and a single in the fifth by Danny Valencia, who was thrown out trying to reach second.
Meanwhile, the Tigers took advantage of Duffy’s erratic ways.
The left-hander walked the bases loaded in the fourth inning, and Castellanos followed with a liner to left that Alex Gordon caught on the run. But rather than throw home immediately, the Gold Glove winner hesitated, and that gave Miguel Cabrera time to score.
In the sixth, reliever Louis Coleman allowed a double to Cabrera and intentionally walked Victor Martinez, who has been hot all series. Herrera came in and Castellanos ripped a double to right, driving in both runs while ending a 0-for-15 slump.
That was plenty of support for Smyly, who made 63 appearances out of the bullpen last season and two this season, but who may be firmly establishing himself as the fifth starter.
The victory was Smyly’s first as a starter since beating the Royals on July 6, 2012.
NOTES: Royals RHP Aaron Brooks made his big league debut, giving up all six runs in the ninth. … Tigers RHP Robbie Ray is expected to be promoted from Triple-A Toledo to start Tuesday against Houston in his big league debut. … Tigers RHP Anibal Sanchez (cut middle finger) had no problems throwing Friday, manager Brad Ausmus said. Sanchez went on the DL on April 27. … LHP Jason Vargas starts Sunday for Kansas City. RHP Justin Verlander starts for Detroit.