Mike Moustakas had a difficult road trip, then had to face Justin Verlander when the Kansas City Royals kicked off a 10-game homestand on Tuesday night.
Not exactly a recipe for a big performance, but the young slugger sure delivered.
Moustakas had three hits and three RBI and the Royals roughed up Verlander in a 9-8 victory over the Detroit Tigers.
Verlander, the reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner, was charged with eight earned runs, matching his career high, in 5 2/3 innings. It was the third time in Verlander’s career he had surrendered eight earned runs and first since April 6, 2009, at Toronto.
”Clearly, I wasn’t good enough,” Verlander said. ”I missed on location a little bit, but not necessarily up. Most of the hard-hit balls they hit were in that first inning because I missed on location. I felt from there forward I made some pretty good pitches and let them put the ball in play in the right spots.”
Jhonny Peralta hit a tying solo homer for Detroit in the eighth, but the Royals responded in the bottom half.
Billy Butler hit a one-out single for his third hit of the game and was replaced by Lorenzo Cain, who swiped second. Salvador Perez then fouled out against Brayan Villarreal (3-4) and Phil Coke came in to face Moustakas, who doubled down the right-field line to give the Royals a 9-8 lead.
”I got a hanging slider and hooked it down the line,” said Moustakas, who was 1 for 23 on the Royals’ just concluded trip. ”I was able to stay on it and sneak it past Prince (Fielder).
”Me and Seitz (hitting coach Kevin Seitzer) were in the cage a lot today to get myself in a good position to hit and it paid off today. I felt a lot more relaxed at the plate and a lot more confident because I was able to see the ball, see it and not just swing.”
Aaron Crow (3-1) got the win despite allowing Peralta’s 10th homer and Greg Holland worked out of a jam to earn his eighth save in 10 opportunities.
Austin Jackson led off the Detroit ninth with a walk and advanced to third on a groundout and wild pitch. After Miguel Cabrera struck out and Fielder was walked intentionally, Delmon Young hit Holland’s next pitch just outside the right-field pole. Tigers manager Jim Leyland wanted it reviewed and after looking at replays, it was ruled a foul ball. Young lined out to left on the next pitch.
”I was just going to take my chances with Young,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. ”I no more got in the dugout and turned to Dave (pitching coach Dave Eiland) and said, `I hope this works.’ Then boom. As soon as it was hit, I couldn’t tell if it wasn’t fair or foul. I went in and I watched the replay and I could see that it was definitely foul.”
Jackson went 3 for 3 and scored three times for the Tigers, who stayed two games back of the AL Central-leading White Sox. Fielder and Young each had two RBI.
After striking out his first two hitters, Verlander allowed seven runs on 10 hits to the next 13 batters, throwing 56 pitches in the first two innings. The Royals batted around in a four-run second.
”We did a great job against him,” Yost said. ”We had a good approach against him. Justin is probably saying he wasn’t real sharp tonight, but you take advantage when you can. We put seven runs up and that’s a great job against a pitcher of his caliber.
”It was one of those starts where we put together a good first inning and a good second inning and kind of held on from there.”
Alex Gordon doubled and scored in the first, then doubled home two runs in the second. It was his fifth consecutive multihit game and gave him a major league-leading 44 doubles.
Perez’s second double in the sixth scored Jarrod Dyson and chased Verlander after the right-hander yielded 12 hits, one shy of his career high set Aug. 11, 2006, against the Chicago White Sox in his rookie season.
The Royals’ 2-through-6 hitters — Alcides Escobar, Gordon, Butler, Perez and Moustakas — combined for 12 hits and nine RBI.
Verlander entered with a 9-2 record and a 1.83 ERA in 13 career starts at Kauffman Stadium and a 14-2 overall record against the Royals.
Detroit scored three times in the first. Andy Dirks doubled in Jackson and scored on Young’s two-out homer off Luis Mendoza.
The Royals responded with three runs in the bottom half, capped by Moustakas’ two-run single.
Mendoza gave up six runs and seven hits in five innings.
NOTES: Royals LHP Bruce Chen will start Wednesday against the Tigers. Chen received treatment after rolling his right ankle when he stepped on a ball in the outfield Monday at Boston in pregame drills. … Royals minor league 1B Mark Donato, a 26th-round pick in June, received a 50-game suspension from the commissioner’s office after testing positive for an amphetamine. Donato was hitting .253 with three home runs in 38 games for Surprise in the rookie Arizona League.