The Royals matched a season high with 10 runs Thursday, then rallied for a 4-2 win Friday. But Zimmermann has yet to allow the Royals more than two runs in six career starts against them.
The Royals did have the tying run on third and the winning run on first with two out in the ninth against Tigers closer Shane Greene. Lucas Duda led off with a double and scored when Alex Gordon's one-out liner to center actually caromed off Leonys Martin's head for an error. Gordon then went to third on Ryan Goins' two-out single, but Jon Jay struck out to end the game.
"You feel good about the situation there," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "You get in that situation where you're just one hit from tying it up, and really, a double away from winning the ballgame. We gave ourselves a chance."
Royals starter Jason Hammel was hit hard in the first, giving up RBI doubles to Nicholas Castellanos, Victor Martinez and John Hicks.
But Hammel settled down after that and allowed the Tigers no further runs. And he saved the bullpen to some degree, going 6 2/3 innings. He have up 10 hits, three runs, walked one and struck out five.
"Tough to come out there and give up three right away," Hammel said. "It's my job to set the tone. But then we're fighting from behind. … We got some length, but [still came up short]."
The Royals had a great chance to do some damage in the fifth inning, with some help from the Tigers. Alcides Escobar drew a one-out walk, and with two outs advanced to second on Jay's single to right.
Jorge Soler grounded to third, but was safe at first when Hicks dropped the throw. But with the bases loaded, Zimmermann struck out Mike Moustakas.
"He made good pitches when he got in trouble," Royals center fielder Abraham Almonte said. Almonte homered later off reliever Blaine Hardy.
SOUND SMART Soler's 10-game hitting streak and 19-game on-base streak ended after he went 0-for-4.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS Royals rookie right-hander Jason Adam made his Major League debut in the ninth inning. Adam, a fifth-round Draft pick by the Royals in 2010, was traded to Minnesota in 2014, but eventually found his way back to the Royals organization. He walked his first hitter, Martin. But Adam then struck out Jeimer Candelario as part of a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play. Adam then gave up a double to Castellanos, but got Martinez to ground out to end his scoreless inning.
Adam was the sixth Royal to make his Major League debut this season.
"First hitter, just a little nervous," Adam said. "We saw that with the walk. It was just a surreal moment. I had a lot of people tell me to really take it in on your jog in, and I did. After the walk, I was like, 'I better lock this back in.'"
After the walk, catcher Salvador Perez came to the mound.
"He just said, 'You got this. Same as Double-A, Triple-A, just keep pitching. Come to my glove and I'll take care of things,'" Adam said. " I appreciated that."
UP NEXT Right-hander Jakob Junis (3-2, 3.29 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals as they wrap up a four-game set with Detroit on Sunday at 1:15 p.m CT. Left-hander Matthew Boyd (1-2, 2.48 ERA) pitches for the visiting Tigers at Kauffman Stadium. Junis gave up seven hits and two runs over six innings last Tuesday in Boston. Junis already has faced the Tigers twice this season and is 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA.