KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Shane Greene and the rest of the Tigers’ pitching staff had no trouble getting the first two outs of an inning.
It was getting the final one against Kansas City that gave them fits.
Salvador Perez hit a three-run homer and had a career-high five RBIs, Alcides Escobar also drove in a pair and the Royals scored all their runs with two outs in an 8-6 victory over Detroit on Tuesday night.
“We go over scouting reports and know what type of team they are,” Tigers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. “We don’t want to give in and throw too many pitches over the middle of the plate, (so) we might have nitpicked a little bit, trying to hit the corners perfectly, make that perfect pitch.”
Saltalamacchia tried to bail the Tigers out, hitting a three-run shot — his third straight game going deep — to trim an 8-2 deficit in half in the seventh inning. The Tigers then loaded the bases with one out off Joakim Soria in the eighth, but could only get a run across when Victor Martinez was hit by a pitch.
Miguel Cabrera struck out for the fourth time and J.D. Martinez flied out to end the inning.
Hardly the kind of clutch hitting Kansas City displayed.
“We’re going to play hard until the last out,” explained Perez, who had a two-run double in the third inning before his homer in the fifth. “We’re always going to play hard.”
Wade Davis breezed through the ninth inning for his sixth save, helping Ventura (1-0) improve to 5-0 in six career starts against Detroit. The young flamethrower allowed two runs on six hits in five innings.
Cabrera had a pair of RBIs for Detroit, but his strikeouts loomed large.
It was the first matchup between teams expected to battle all season for the AL Central, and for a while it appeared Round 1 would be a rout. The Royals scored three times in the second, stringing together hits and walks in trademark fashion, and tacked on two more runs when Perez laced his double down the left-field line.
Meanwhile, the Tigers did little to help out Greene (1-1), who allowed seven runs in 4 1-3 innings.
The Royals scored their first run when Jarrod Dyson singled to left in the second, but Kendrys Morales should have been out at the plate — the throw from Justin Upton easily beat him. The only problem was Saltalamacchia whiffed on a one-hopper, allowing Morales to chug right past him for the run.
The Tigers’ offense was almost as bad as their defense, stranding 12 runners on base.
Cabrera and Martinez were baffled by Ventura with the bases loaded in the third. Then, when they seemed to get something going in the fifth, Mike Aviles slapped a routine flyball to right field to leave three more on base.
Luke Hochevar and the rest of Kansas City’s bullpen struggled through the final four to preserve the victory.
“We’re fighting back, but we’re not quite getting it,” Saltalamacchia said. “At the same time, we’re not quitting.”