The Royals continued their amazing roll with their ninth straight win, this one 11-4 over the Detroit Tigers and catapulting them into first place in the American League Central.
After surrendering 22 runs while losing the first two games of the four-game set, the Tigers find themselves in the unfamiliar position of chasing the Royals on June 17.
"It is big," third baseman Mike Moustakas said on the Fox Sports Kansas City postgame show. "We’re (surging) a little earlier than we were last year."
Royals manager Ned Yost was careful not to get too enthused about taking over first place.
"What’s the date?" Yost said. "… It’s better than the alternative, though."
The Royals pounded Tigers ace Max Scherzer for seven runs in the second inning and never really looked back.
"It’s frustrating," Scherzer said on the postgame show. "I couldn’t put away guys when I had two strikes on them."
Yordano Ventura perhaps didn’t have his best stuff, but he stifled the Tigers for the most part through seven innings, cruising with a rare monster lead. He gave up eight hits and three runs through seven innings against a tough lineup.
— Gordo nation keeps rolling. I’ve mentioned this before, but this is a totally different team when Alex Gordon is ripping it. He absolutely carried the Royals last April and May before he mysteriously fell off. But right now he is showing he can carry the team again. Gordon got the Royals going against Scherzer with a two-run bomb that ignited a seven-run second inning. He also smashed a double down the right-field line in the fifth that led to three more runs. Get to the ballot box, Royals fans — Alex is an All-Star.
— Just keep contributing, Moose. We all know the struggles Moustakas is having, but as long as he continues to chip along and contribute each night in some fashion, we can forget about his average. Moose again delivered on offense, rocking a two-run homer in a great at-bat in the second inning in which he hung with Scherzer by taking several close pitches. Then he jumped on a 3-2 changeup and rode it into the right-field bullpen.
— LoCain can do it all. Lorenzo Cain was supposed to have a night off. But the groin injury to Nori Aoki forced Cain into the game and he continued to show why he is headed for a career year. Cain reached base three times and had two hits, including an RBI single. He also made a spectacular catch, leaping over the wall to rob J.D. Martinez of a two-run homer in right field. If Cain doesn’t win a Gold Glove this season, there should be a Congressional inquiry.
— The Aoki injury. OK, so maybe losing Aoki isn’t the end of the world, and the Royals do have Jarrod Dyson as depth, but you don’t want to mess with success. Aoki has been there during this nine-game streak and you don’t want to disrupt anything. Aoki looked like he hurt his groin or hamstring while sliding into home plate in the second inning on Eric Hosmer’s tapper back to the mound. The Royals said he felt "discomfort" in his groin and was day to day.
— A little lapse defensively. Really, there are no complaints, but shortstop Alcides Escobar did boot a routine grounder, and Moustakas also booted a two-hopper (it was ruled a hit). It might be hard to keep concentration when you have a big lead.
— Throw strikes with a big lead. Ventura did his job, containing a very potent Tigers lineup. But he did get a little too concerned about hitting the corners even though he had a massive lead. With a 10-2 lead in the fifth, Ventura walked two hitters. Louis Coleman also walked a hitter with an 11-4 lead in the eighth. A no-no. It’s like slow-pitch softball — when you have a big lead, underhand the damn ball over the plate.