Would you believe it if I told you that since 2006 the Tigers have beaten the Royals 10 more times than they’ve lost? Well, believe it — even if you don’t. According to trusty Baseball-Reference.com, the Tigers are 45-35 against Kansas City in that time.
“Impossible!,” you cry, especially on the heels of this weekend’s inexcusable disaster of a series.
Hey, I’m right there with you.
So why does it feel like the Royals have owned the Tigers of late? Here’s why: On Sept. 24, 2006, the Tigers crushed the Royals 11-4, won their 94th game and clinched a postseason berth. One week later, the Royals poured buckets of ice water on the Tigers and their fans, sweeping the final three games of the season, including the dagger: a 10-8, 12 innings win on the last day of the season, dashing Detroit’s division title chances. (Thanks for reliving that with me.)
Now, if you take those three hideous losses at the end of 2006 and add them to the Tigers’ head-to-head record with the Royals from 2007 to today, here’s what you get: 31-34.
Which leads us to what felt like another wasted trip to the hot and humid heartland — wasted because the Royals are the Royals and because the Tigers avoided Zack Greinke.
Friday: Royals 7 – Tigers 3
Saturday: Tigers 4 – Royals 2
Verlander only struck out four and needed help from the bullpen but he raised his record to 10-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 16 career starts against the Royals.
Sunday: Royals 7 – Tigers 2
This one was payback. Remember the gem Brian Bannister threw against the Tigers in the third game of the year? Six innings, 6 hits, 1 run? He does too. His bullpen surrendered six runs to the Tigers and his start was wasted. Not Sunday. Bannister held the Tigers to five hits and one walk while striking out five in 7.1 innings.
If it feels like Bannister has been inflicting some of the pain on the Tigers in recent seasons, it’s because he is. He’s 5-2 with a 2.16 ERA in nine starts against Detroit.
And how about that Jeremy Bonderman? He gets two quick outs in the first inning then gives up two straight singles. Then he gets ahead of Jose Guillen (1 and 2 count) and surrenders a three-run jack. Final line: 5.2 IP, 11 hits, 7 ER. Bondo stepping up when the team needs him.
The Tigers gave up 16 runs to the Royals in three games. I can live with that; KC’s .279 team average is second-best overall. My issue is with the bats. Nine runs against the 24th-ranked pitching staff in baseball (a 4.72 team ERA) is baffling.
In the words of Gob Bluth: “Come on!”
Don’t you think it’s time the Tigers stop playing down to their competition? Right now they are in second place thanks primarily to a decent start, a crummy division and a dash of luck. It’s time to get fat on the weaker teams — we’re looking at you, Seattle — just like Minnesota does.
Speaking of the Twins, who beat the A’s two-of-three in Oakland this weekend, their record against the Royals since ’06? 49-30. And the White Sox? They’re 47-32. Heck, even the Indians are nine games over .500 against KC in that span.
The Tigers have 10 more games against the Royals this season. Anything less than an 8-2 record is not only inexcusable, it’s embarrassing.