Pivotal miscues by the Kansas City Royals helped spawn a game-changing four-run inning by the Detroit Tigers in the series finale between the teams on Thursday afternoon.
The Royals didn’t score until they’d fallen behind by double digits, and they were swept in a three-game series that concluded with a 10-3 loss to the Tigers in front of an announced crowd of 13,137 in the final game between the teams this season at Comerica Park in Detroit.
The Royals also lost their season series with Detroit and fell behind the Tigers (63-92) for last place in the American League Central Division.
Royals starting pitcher Jonathan Heasley (4-9) allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits and one walk in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out two and gave up a pair of home runs.
Royals first baseman/outfielder Ryan O’Hearn drove in the Royals’ first two runs with a pinch-hit double in the eighth inning, his 11th pinch hit of the season. That gave him the most pinch hits in a season for a Royals player since Kevin Seitzer’s 11 in 1991.
Royals center fielder Michael A. Taylor (2 for 3) and rookie first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino (2 for 3, walk) combined for four of the team’s nine hits.
Rookie catcher MJ Melendez (1 for 3, walk) and rookie infielder/outfielder Nate Eaton (1 for 2, walk, double, RBI) each reached base twice. Melendez was replaced behind the plate by Sebastian Rivero in the bottom of the sixth.
Rookie shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. extended his hitting streak to 11 games with an infield single in the ninth.
Heasley had mixed results in his previous two starts against the Tigers. He held them to just two runs in seven innings and got the win in Detroit on Sept. 3. But he made his next start against the Tigers in Kansas City and allowed seven runs in just four innings in a Sept. 10 loss.
Through the first four innings on Thursday, Heasley gave up just one run on three hits.
Willi Castro gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead with two outs in the second, hammering a 1-1 changeup from Heasley over the right-center field wall for his eighth home run of the season.
That stood as the game’s lone run until the fifth, when the Tigers tacked on four runs.
Tucker Bardhardt reached on a leadoff walk, advanced to second base on a wild pitch and then scored on a fielding error. A sharply hit grounder went off the glove of first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino.
Akil Baddoo, who reached on the error, then scored on an RBI double to the wall in right field by Riley Greene. That made it a 3-0 Tigers advantage with one out and a man on. The next batter, Javier Baez, smashed an 0-2 pitch for a two-run home run.
Baez’s 16th homer of the season put the Royals in a five-run hole.
Royals relief pitcher Taylor Clarke, reinstated from the injured prior to the game, got the final out of the fifth inning and stranded a runner to keep the score 5-0.
Clarke hadn’t pitched since Aug. 7. He’d been on the IL with a left oblique strain. The Royals optioned reliever Jose Cuas to make room for Clarke. In his last 15 appearances before the injury, Clarke posted a 2.40 ERA with 16 strikeouts and a 1.00 WHIP in 15 innings.
The Tigers added five more runs against Royals relievers. The runs were charged to Brad Keller (one inning, one run), Max Castillo (three batters faced, three runs) and Luke Weaver (two innings, one run). Castillo is scheduled to start Sunday’s game.
The Royals begin a season-ending six-game series in Cleveland on Friday night.