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Hosmer the spark as KC caps sweep at Detroit

August 17, 2016

DETROIT -- Eric Hosmer, not satisfied with breaking up Aníbal Sánchez's bids for a perfect game and later a no-hitter, dealt Detroit a decisive blow with a tiebreaking two-run home run in the ninth, sending Kansas City to a 4-1 win on Wednesday night at Comerica Park. The win handed

DETROIT -- Eric Hosmer, not satisfied with breaking up Aníbal Sánchez's bids for a perfect game and later a no-hitter, dealt Detroit a decisive blow with a tiebreaking two-run home run in the ninth, sending Kansas City to a 4-1 win on Wednesday night at Comerica Park. The win handed the Royals their first sweep of the Tigers in Detroit since 2008.
The Royals held the Tigers to one run in each of the three games, the first time Detroit has scored one or no runs in three consecutive games against the same team since 2014, against the Angels. Wednesday's loss kept the Tigers six games behind the Indians in the American League Central and 3 1/2 games behind the second AL Wild Card spot. Boston, leading the Wild Card race, is coming to town for a four-game series beginning on Thursday afternoon.
• Up-to-the-minute standings
"It's one of these phases where we're not hitting," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Sanchie did an outstanding job. They came up with a couple clutch hits at the back end of the game, and they won. Simple as that. They just outhit us."

Five days after Sanchez gave up four home runs at Texas, he retired Kansas City's first 12 batters, then walked Hosmer to lead off the fifth. Sanchez had the home crowd on its feet later, preserving his no-hit bid until Hosmer doubled off the left-field fence with two outs in the seventh.

"I tried to throw the curveball down and in, and I just left it a little bit up," Sanchez said. "He's a great hitter, there's no doubt. He's getting better every year and is a great player. There's no doubt what he's done."

"The one thing [Sanchez] wasn't doing was leaving anything over the middle -- nothing over the middle," Hosmer said. "He was missing just off the plate, a lot of close pitches, close calls for the umpire. He was pretty effective."

Sanchez stranded Hosmer at second in the seventh, completing seven scoreless innings with just the one hit, two walks and eight strikeouts. Still, Yordano Ventura's stingy pitching and a key escape by reliever Matt Strahm sent the Tigers into the eighth with a thin 1-0 lead. One pitch into the eighth, that advantage was gone, erased on Alex Gordon's homer off reliever Justin Wilson's first pitch in a week.
• Hosmer's resurgence coinciding with Royals' push
Hosmer completed the comeback in the ninth by driving a Shane Greene slider into the right-field seats for his 17th home run of the year, scoring Lorenzo Cain, who had hit a one-out single to right. Drew Butera's two-out single tacked on an insurance run, helping send the Royals to their first road series sweep this season, the last coming against Minnesota to finish the 2015 regular season.

"It was a cutter," Greene said of Hosmer's homer. "I tried to get too perfect with it."
As for breaking up the no-hitter, Hosmer said, "It was getting late. I know everyone started to notice it around sixth or seventh inning. It just felt like it took a load off us, and then Gordo got the big swing to tie things up and it kind of sparked a whole new energy."

The win, closed out with Kelvin Herrera's sixth save, lifted the Royals back up to .500 at 60-60.

"This was good, especially against a Central Division team, especially against Detroit," Gordon said. "We're definitely not out of it. We're just going to try to play good baseball."
V-Mart strikes:Victor Martinez didn't hit many home runs during his frustrating 2015 season, but he struck twice against Ventura in a game last August. With nary a baserunner for either team through an inning and a half on Wednesday, Martinez took Ventura deep again, turning on a 97-mph fastball and sending it out to right for his 22nd home run of the season and his third in two years off Ventura.

"It just came back over the plate.," Ventura said of the pitch to Martinez. "I tried to throw a two-seam [fastball], but it came back over.
"[Overall] I was throwing the ball for strikes. The breaking ball was better. My two-seam and four-seam fastball were good."
Gordon rolling: Gordon drilled Wilson's pitch for his 10th homer and second in two nights. Gordon, who also walked in the fifth, is finally coming out of a season-long slump. He is riding an eight-game hitting streak and has reached base in 12 straight.

"I'm just trying to put something together," Gordon said. "We've still got a little bit of time left. It's been a tough season, but we've got a little bit of time left. Hopefully, we can put something good together."
Scintillating Sanchez: Sanchez didn't hit much trouble over his seven innings, but he had a threat on his hands after Hosmer's seventh-inning double brought up Kendrys Morales. Sanchez induced an inning-ending popup from Morales on the first pitch of the at-bat, finishing his best outing of the year.  More >

Magic Matt: Strahm continues to impress. The rookie left-hander came into the game with the Royals down, 1-0, and two runners on with one out. The first hitter he faced, Erick Aybar, reached on third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert's fielding error, which loaded the bases. But Strahm then got the dangerous Miguel Cabrera to roll into a 6-4-3 double play, ending the threat. Strahm then pitched a scoreless eighth and got his first Major League win.
• Despite return, Miggy hindered by biceps

Tigers outfielder Tyler Collins was replaced by Justin Upton in left field for the eighth, two innings after taking a 99-mph Ventura fastball off his right knee. X-rays were negative, but Ausmus expected to be without Collins for "a few days."  More >
• Tigers see timing as root of Upton's struggles
"We've just got to win games. Change the uniform. I don't care who puts on what uniform they're wearing, who comes into town or if we go into their town. We've got to find a way to win games. Right now, we're finding a way to not win games." -- Ausmus
Six of Sanchez's eight strikeouts came on his changeup. According to Inside Edge, that's his highest total of strikeouts off the changeup since May 29, 2015, when the veteran right-hander struck out nine Angels over seven innings of two-run ball.
"The changeup was really good," Sanchez said. "That's the pitch that I've been working on most."
Royals: Right-hander Dillon Gee (4-6, 4.78 ERA) takes the mound as the Royals open a four-game homestand with the Twins at Kauffman Stadium on Thursday night at 8:15 p.m. CT. As a starter this season, Gee is 2-6 with a 6.35 ERA.
Tigers: Detroit welcomes the Red Sox to Comerica Park for a four-game series, beginning with Thursday's 1:10 p.m. ET matinee. Matt Boyd (4-2, 4.16), one of Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski's final acquisitions as Tigers president/general manager last July, gets the start for Detroit.
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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for since 2002.

Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and

for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.