‘That one hurt a lot’: Kansas City Royals rally against Tigers but lose ninth straight

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Multiple times this season, Kansas City Royals manager Mike Matheny has referenced losses feeling like a kick to the gut. The deflated look on his face and somber tone of his voice after Tuesday night’s game made it plain to see that the latest loss was even more visceral after a wrenching swing of emotions.

Less than six innings into their seven-game, six-day road trip, the Royals trailed by seven runs to a Detroit Tigers team with the worst record in the majors — the same team the Royals swept in four games on the same field a few weeks ago.

The Royals rallied and came within one strike of extra innings, but the Tigers handed them their ninth consecutive loss, 8-7 on Robbie Grossman’s walk-off single in front of however many remained of an announced 7,312 at Comerica Park on Tuesday night.

“They’re all hard,” Matheny said. “That one was exceptionally hard because of how our guys worked and everything that we’ve been asking of them, just stay the course, keep fighting and good things are going to turn out. And they will.

“Just that kind of swing there late, I hurt for them. They’ve got to know when they keep playing like that, we’ll be right where we want to be. But this is just — every one of them hurts, that one hurt a lot.”

The Royals (16-18) scratched their way back to tie the score behind Jorge Soler’s powerful bat that always seems to torment the Tigers (11-24).

Soler drove in six of the Royals’ seven runs, and he did it all in the eighth and ninth innings.

With the Royals down 7-0 in the eighth and two men on, Soler smashed a three-run home run an estimated 410 feet to left-center field for his first home run since April 21.

That home run set the stage for the ninth-inning rally.

Hanser Alberto doubled to start the ninth, advanced on Nicky Lopez’s single and scored on Ryan O’Hearn’s bloop single to left field with one out. After Sebastian Rivero reached on a fielding error that loaded the bases with two outs, Soler blasted a first-pitch fastball on a line to the center field wall — the hardest hit ball of the night at 109.6 mph.

Tigers center fielder Akil Baddoo made a leaping attempt at a catch, but the ball deflected off of his glove and off of the wall for a three-run double, tying the score 7-7 with two outs.

“Something definitely clicked, being able to get RBIs and get back into the action of the game after being down so many runs,” Soler said with assistant strength and conditioning coach Luis Perez serving as his interpreter. “It’s a good feeling, everybody in the dugout cheers up. We know and we understand we’re a really good team and we’re capable of doing these kinds of things. It’s just about going out there and proving to ourselves that we can keep going.”

Royals reliever Scott Barlow (1-1) pitched the bottom of the ninth. He hit the first batter of the inning, Niko Goodrum, with an 0-1 slider. A strikeout, a walk and another strikeout put runners on first and second with two outs and Grossman coming to the plate.

Grossman fouled off two pitches and then took a curveball in the dirt for a ball. Barlow and the catcher Rivero, who’d entered the game for Salvador Perez in the seventh inning, had a meeting with pitching coach Cal Eldred to discuss pitch selection at that pivotal juncture.

Barlow went with a fastball down and in. Grossman shot it past diving first baseman Carlos Santana, who may have been partially screened by the runner, and into right field for the walk-off RBI single.

“I was fully committed to it, and that’s really at the end of the day, all you can ask for,” Barlow said of the pitch.

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