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May 23, 2023 8:40 am

Tigers chase more clutch hits against Royals

After finally getting some timely hitting on Monday, the Detroit Tigers will look to clinch their three-game series against the host Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night.

The Tigers went 3-for-19 (.158) with runners in scoring position while losing the last two games of a three-game weekend series at Washington. However, they came through with several clutch hits on Monday, and none was bigger than Javy Baez’s bases-clearing, 10th-inning double that lifted Detroit to an 8-5 win.

Baez collected three hits for the night to snap an 0-for-19 slump. His first two hits — infield singles — registered exit velocities of 46.9 and 65.7 mph. His decisive double off the bullpen fence clocked in at 111.4 mph.

“He probably had the two softest hits tonight and the hardest hit,” Tigers’ manager A.J. Hinch said. “I’ll take them all.”

Detroit’s Matt Vierling also delivered a bases-loaded hit, in the first inning. He owns a five-game hitting streak in which he is batting .474 (9-for-19), but he had just one RBI over his previous 13 games before matching his career best with four RBIs on Monday.

“Getting good pitches to hit are key,” Hinch said. “When he wants to be aggressive, he’s got to make sure they are good pitches. When he’s super patient, he’s got to understand there are going to be hittable pitches early in the count. He needs to kind of learn when to put the gas pedal down and when to ease up.”

Riley Greene, who had two singles on Monday, has hit safely in all 16 games he has played against the Royals in his two-year major league career. He owns a .313 average vs. Kansas City.

Detroit’s Eduardo Rodriguez (4-3, 2.06 ERA) will try to stop that streak on Tuesday.

The left-hander is 3-1 with a 4.40 ERA in eight career starts against the Royals, most recently throwing 6 2/3 scoreless innings vs. them during a 10-3 win on Sept. 29.

Among current Kansas City hitters, Salvador Perez has seen Rodriguez the most with 11 at-bats and the lone homer.

With starters Brad Keller, Kris Bubic and Ryan Yarbrough on the injured list, Kansas City has used a relief pitcher as an opener in three of the past 10 games, increasing the bullpen workload.

After pitching 48 1/3 innings in the past 10 games, the relievers won’t get a respite Tuesday as the club likely will use another bullpen opener. Manager Matt Quatraro had not announced a probable starter by Tuesday morning.

Royals starting pitchers are averaging less than five innings per start, and the team’s seven quality starts are the fewest in the majors.

Walks continue to plague Kansas City pitching. As the team has lost eight of its past 10 games, Royals hurlers have walked 52. Kansas City has issued 189 walks, the second-highest total in the majors behind the Oakland Athletics’ 241.

Prior to Monday’s game, Kansas City recalled infielder Nicky Lopez from the 10-day injured list. He had been out for three weeks after undergoing an emergency appendectomy.

In a corresponding move, Hunter Dozier was designated for assignment. Dozier, who debuted with Kansas City in 2016, enjoyed the second-longest tenure among current Royals players, behind Perez.

“It was an extremely tough decision,” Quatraro said. “We think the world of him as a person. It’s very difficult on a personal level for a lot of the guys who have not only become teammates but friends and family.”

In parts of seven seasons with Kansas City, Dozier hit .238 with 73 homers and 235 RBIs over 594 games. He hit .183 with two homers and nine RBIs in 29 games this year.

–Field Level Media

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