9/15/2013 12:40 A.M. ET
Royals looking to get quick fix against Tigers
Steals leader Dyson says speed element crucial to offensive success
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
DETROIT -- Stop the Royals' speed game and you can beat them. That seems to be the Tigers' plan and it certainly helped in their 6-3 victory on Friday night.
The Tigers were ecstatic about catcher Alex Avila's throw-out of Emilio Bonifacio at second base and pitcher Justin Verlander's pickoff of Jarrod Dyson at first base in the game.
Speed is one of the most important weapons of the Royals. They lead the American League in stolen bases -- 141 through Friday -- and are last in home runs (103).
"It's real important to this team, because we've got a bunch of guys that really don't hit the long ball so we've got to take advantage of every bag we can get, every base we can get," said Dyson, the team leader with 31 steals. "It isn't really important to too many teams. Like Detroit doesn't lean on stolen bases, they lean on guys getting on so their power hitters can get up and do what they're paid to do."
The Tigers offer a stark contrast -- they ranked last in stolen bases (32) and were fourth in home runs (165).
Speed is crucial, though, for the Royals who led the season series against the Tigers, 9-8, entering Saturday night's game.
"It's an advantage for us, but clubs have done a good job here lately of really focusing on it," manager Ned Yost said. "But the more you focus on that, it takes away your focus from other things, too."
The Royals had far more steals -- 24 in 29 attempts -- against the Tigers than any other opponent so there's no doubt that Verlander was focusing on Dyson after he bunted his way on base with two outs.
"Verlander's very quick. It all predicates on the pitcher. The catcher's the one that gets all the stats, but if the pitcher is quick to the plate and has a quick move to first, you can stop it," Yost said. "He's extremely quick. He's like James Shields-quick over there."
The Royals' Shields, who strikes like a rattlesnake, has the most pickoffs (27) of any right-handed pitcher since 2006. Verlander emulated him with a snap throw to catch Dyson when the Tigers' lead was just 3-1.
"They can be game-changers, because they know if we get to second, we're scoring on almost any base hit so their main job is to control our running game," Dyson said. "Our job is to take advantage of it."
Later in the game, Alcides Escobar and Dyson each pulled off a stolen base, but neither resulted in a run so Tigers manager Jim Leyland was satisfied with his club's effort.
"We finally were able to stop some of it," Leyland said. "I'm proud of them because for one night at least, we shut it down pretty good."
Don't look for the Royals to be slowing down, though.
"We're mostly gap-to-gap guys. We hit a lot of singles and doubles and we take extra bases. That's what we do," Dyson said. "You love to see the long ball because the guys on the bases don't have to do anything but jog. But if you don't have the long ball, you've got to go to your next tool and that's taking advantage on the bases."
Bonifacio ejected after pickoff at first base
DETROIT -- Royals second baseman Emilio Bonifacio was ejected in the third inning of Saturday night's 1-0 victory after being called out on a pickoff play.
With Bonifacio on first after drawing a two-out walk, Tigers starter Doug Fister fired a throw to first baseman Prince Fielder. Bonifacio dove back and stretched a hand to the bag, but first-base umpire James Hoye ruled that Fielder had tagged him out.
Moments later, Hoye tossed Bonifacio out of the game.
"I didn't say anything to him. I just threw helmet and my [hand] guard," Bonifacio said. "Fister's got a good move over there. It was a close play, but I thought I was safe."
Chris Getz replaced Bonifacio at second base.
It was the second straight game in which a Royals runner was picked off first; Justin Verlander nabbed Jarrod Dyson in the Tigers' 6-3 win on Friday night.
It was the second ejection of Bonifacio's career; he was also tossed on July 4, 2011, playing for the Marlins against the Phillies. It was this season's fifth ejection for the Royals. Billy Butler was thrown out twice, Getz and manager Ned Yost once each.
Pena's season likely over after appendectomy
DETROIT -- Veteran Carlos Pena's season with the Royals was very brief.
Pena, the first baseman and designated hitter who joined the club on Sept. 3, underwent an appendectomy on Saturday morning at a Bloomfield, Mich., hospital and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
"Last night, he started experiencing some stomach problems, some gas pains," manager Ned Yost said before Saturday night's game against the Tigers. "They gave him some fluid and they thought it might have been food poisoning. He woke up again this morning and he had to have an appendectomy at 10 o'clock."
Pena is expected to be released from Henry Ford Hospital on Sunday morning, enabling him to fly back to Kansas City with the Royals.
"He did great," Yost said. "Everything went well."
Pena, who was released by the Astros on July 31 after hitting .209, signed a Minor League contract with the Royals on Aug. 27 and was assigned to Triple-A Omaha. He played in five games for the Storm Chasers before joining the September callups to Kansas City.
Pena played in four games and struck out in all three of his at-bats. Now, he's in a hospital.
"The recovery time is about two weeks," Yost said. "That's also the time left in the season."
Paulino facing recovery from shoulder surgery
DETROIT -- Royals right-hander Felipe Paulino is facing recovery from another surgery, this time to his throwing shoulder.
Paulino spent all of this season trying to make it back from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, but was hampered by back stiffness and then shoulder problems. Last Tuesday in New Orleans, Paulino underwent suprascapular nerve decompression from Dr. Felix Savoie.
The only pitching that Paulino did this year was seven games during Minor League injury rehabilitation assignments. He had Tommy John surgery on July 3, 2012, and the Royals hoped Paulino would return shortly after left-hander Danny Duffy, who had the same surgery. But Paulino kept having setbacks.
Paulino was obtained from Colorado for cash on May 26, 2011, and in two seasons with the Royals, he was 7-7 with a 3.55 ERA in 28 games (27 starts) and 158 strikeouts in 162 1/3 innings.
He is expected to be ready for Spring Training, according to head athletic trainer Nick Kenney.
Royals' notable streak against Verlander ends
DETROIT -- When the Tigers' Justin Verlander beat the Royals on Friday night, he ended his second-longest winless streak against any club -- five straight starts, all this year.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Verlander's only longer streak of futility was six winless starts against the White Sox from September 2006 to April 2008. During that six-game span, he was 0-3 with a 5.68 ERA.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.