Royals subjected to Tigers' revenge
Kansas City endures lopsided loss to Detroit in opener
KANSAS CITY -- Guess the Tigers were pretty miffed about those first six games.
At any rate, they subjected the Royals to a 19-4 meltdown on a 97-degree Monday night at Kauffman Stadium. The Tigers had lost the first six matchups this season to the Royals.
Talk about sweet revenge.
The numbers rolled up by the Tigers were formidable.
Miguel Cabrera had six RBIs and five hits. He had two doubles and three singles.
Matt Joyce hammered a three-run homer and wound up with four hits and five RBIs.
Gary Sheffield's three-run homer was part of the Tigers' 10-run eighth inning.
And, lest the pitching be overlooked, it should be pointed out that Zach Miner pitched six shutout innings in his first start this season for the Tigers. He gave up just three hits.
"It was a nasty loss," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "Obviously lopsided -- a laugher for them. Toward the end, at least we were playing with a little bit of pride, still battling and we got rid of the shutout. That was a positive."
The pummeling got so severe with the Tigers' 10-run flood in the eighth inning that shortstop Tony Pena Jr. was enlisted to pitch the ninth for the Royals.
Pena, who lost his starting shortstop job to Mike Aviles, might have a new career ahead. Showing off a free-and-easy form, he pitched a one-two-three inning and registered 90 mph-plus on the radar gun. He even caught Ivan Rodriguez looking at strike three.
This was his first competitive pitching since high school in the Dominican Republic.
"I always play around when I'm playing catch with [Mark Grudzielanek] and everyone -- just in case," Pena said.
For the record, Pena was the first position player pressed into pitching service by the Royals since July 17, 1998, when infielder Shane Halter took a turn in an 18-5 loss at Seattle. Halter also pitched a scoreless inning. The Mariners' Alex Rodriguez got an infield single, but he was wiped out in a double play.
Only a few of the 14,137 paid customers were still around for Pena's performance, but they gave him a standing ovation as he left the mound.
"It was fun," Pena said.
There wasn't much pitching fun, though, for starter Luke Hochevar and reliever Jimmy Gobble.
Hochevar was dinged for five runs, capped by Joyce's homer, in the third inning. Hillman noted, however, that the escapade could have been averted if third baseman Alex Gordon had not bobbled Edgar Renteria's grounder.
"It started going downhill with the five runs they scored, but if you replay the inning, we had a routine double-play ball that we didn't turn," Hillman said.
There was one out instead of two on the play, and instead of being over when Placido Polanco struck out, the inning rolled on.
By the seventh inning, it was 9-0, but the Royals hadn't seen nothin' yet. The Tigers' 10-spot in the eighth mostly came against Gobble, who was charged with all 10 runs.
"You don't ever want to kick a team when they're down, but the offense just kept coming," said a sympathetic Joyce.
At one point in the inning, Gobble was nicked for six straight hits, the last being Sheffield's homer. His ERA spiraled from 7.99 to 11.31.
"You go out there and you try to do your job, and I didn't come close to doing it," Gobble said. "And I haven't been doing it at all this year."
Gobble faced 12 hitters in the inning before Hillman finally called for Leo Nunez, just off the disabled list. Nunez gave up two more hits before getting the third out on the 16th batter (Sheffield again) in the inning.
Gobble manfully faced reporters in the wake of his disaster.
"Whatever tomorrow brings, you've just got to go out and just keep pitching -- never give up," Gobble said.
The Royals, behind 19-0, finally broke through with four runs in their half of the eighth. They had five straight hits, including Billy Butler's two-run single.
That buoyed Hillman, who discounted the 15-run scope of the pounding.
"It doesn't go down as five or 10 losses just because we got our rear-ends kicked tonight," Hillman said. "Hopefully we can put it out of our minds."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.