Tigers 7, Royals 5
To beat Zack Greinke, the Detroit Tigers needed one of their
most unlikely home runs in years.
Will Rhymes hit his first major league homer and Alex Avila
drove in three runs and made a spectacular defensive play to lead
Detroit past the Kansas City Royals 7-5 Monday night.
With two outs in the sixth inning and Kansas City leading 5-4,
Rhymes, a rookie generously listed at 5-foot-9, hit a two-run shot
off Greinke to put the Tigers ahead. It was only the second home
run allowed by the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner in his last
Rhymes had to wait a few minutes before he could enjoy it,
because first-base umpire Jerry Meals originally ruled that the
ball hit the top of the fence. It appeared Rhymes had a game-tying
triple until replays showed the ball hit the bottom of a safety
railing above the wall. Umpires went inside for a look and reversed
”I got to enjoy that home run a lot longer than most people.
That was the longest home run jog ever,” Rhymes said. ”We had
been looking in the dugout and they said it was a home run, but you
Royals right fielder Mitch Maier, who missed catching the ball
by a couple of inches, was sure the review would go against his
”I knew the ball hit the railing, not the yellow line on top of
the fence, so when they went in to look at it, I knew what the
decision would be,” he said. ”That’s a catch you dream about –
robbing someone of a homer – but I just couldn’t get high
After the game, Rhymes found a bottle of champagne in his
locker, courtesy of teammate Brandon Inge.
”We’re thrilled for him,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Avila finished the scoring with a solo homer in the eighth, an
inning after the catcher flipped over a railing and landed
headfirst in the Royals’ dugout while catching Brayan Pena’s foul
”Once I caught it and was coming over, I kind of looked just
straight down, and it’s a long ways down into that dugout,” said
Avila, who got some assistance from Royals manager Ned Yost. ”They
grabbed me, and thank God they did because I was going face first
right into that floor.”
Yuniesky Betancourt matched a career high with four hits for
Kansas City, including a three-run homer.
Brad Thomas (6-2) earned the win with 1 2-3 innings of shutout
relief. Tigers starter Rick Porcello gave up five runs and 12 hits
in 5 1-3 innings.
With closer Jose Valverde still unavailable due to elbow
soreness, Ryan Perry and Phil Coke split the ninth. Coke got two
outs for his second save.
Greinke (9-13) couldn’t take advantage of an unusual amount of
run support, giving up six runs – five earned – on eight hits and
two walks in six innings.
”Early on, I wasn’t sharp at all,” said Greinke, who entered
with the lowest ERA at Comerica Park of any opposing starter. ”It
got a little better, but I never had great control.”
Detroit built an early 4-0 lead against Greinke. Ramon Santiago
provided the first run with an RBI single in the second before the
Tigers added three in the third.
Johnny Damon, Don Kelly and Miguel Cabrera started the inning
with singles, the last driving in a run, and Avila added a two-run
The Royals, though, went ahead with five runs in the fifth.
Kansas City started the inning with six straight hits, including
Betancourt’s three-run shot. Billy Butler ended the streak by
grounding into a bases-loaded double play, but the tying run scored
on the play.
Wilson Betemit then beat out an infield single, allowing Gregor
Blanco to score the fifth run.
In the seventh, Kila Ka’aihue was thrown out trying to stretch a
single into a double before Avila’s inning-ending catch, but Yost
applauded Ka’aihue’s decision.
”On a ball off the wall, you have to make them make a play,”
Yost said. ”They got a perfect bounce and a perfect throw or Kila
makes it. I’d have been angry if he hadn’t tried.”
NOTES: Inge’s two strikeouts gave him 1,094 in his career,
leaving him five short of Lou Whitaker’s franchise record. Whitaker
played 1,105 more games with the Tigers than Inge has. … Rhymes
was shunned by most of his teammates when he finally arrived in the
dugout after his long wait on third base while his homer was being
reviewed. After about 30 seconds, though, he was mobbed by most of
the roster. The homer came in his 164th career at-bat. … Greinke
needs one more inning to pass Al Fitzmorris for 10th place on the
Royals’ career list.