DETROIT -- The Royals thought they had Justin Verlander right where they wanted him.Verlander labored through a 29-pitch first inning, in which he gave up three runs. But in the end, the Royals missed several opportunities to punch a bigger hole in the game and that was costly in a
DETROIT -- The Royals thought they had Justin Verlander right where they wanted him.
Verlander labored through a 29-pitch first inning, in which he gave up three runs. But in the end, the Royals missed several opportunities to punch a bigger hole in the game and that was costly in a 5-3 loss to the Tigers on Tuesday night in the series opener.
"If you're going to get to Verlander," Royals manager Ned Yost said, "you got to get to him early. We got his pitch count way up and we had some more chances, but he just settled in."
The first five Royals recorded hits off Verlander, with Jorge Bonifacio producing an RBI single and Salvador Perez delivering a two-run single.
But with two on and none out, the rally fizzled right there. Mike Moustakas grounded out, Brandon Moss struck out and Alcides Escobar hit a shot off Verlander that caromed to second baseman Ian Kinsler for the final out.
Moss' strikeout came with runners on first and third and one out.
"I chased some bad pitches," said Moss, whose averaged dropped to .179. "When you're struggling, you start guessing and trying to force things. That never works.
"But then again, he made some great pitches. He made the best three curveballs he did all night to me in the first inning. I knew he was going to throw curveballs because he needed a strikeout there. They looked good coming out of his hand."
The Royals had two on and none out again in the third inning. But Perez struck out, Moustakas flied out, and Moss lined out hard to Kinsler.
"It's frustrating, but you can't hang your hat on one at-bat," Moss said. "The overall volume of at-bats lately haven't been very good. I'd like to get a hit, obviously. But it's not like I deserved any hits in the other at-bats."
To be fair, the Royals did hit several balls on the nose. Alex Gordon was robbed twice on hard-hit balls at infielders. Perez was robbed on a great catch by center fielder Michael Mahtook -- the distance was a projected 427 feet per Statcast™.
"All you can do is control how hard you hit it," Perez said. "We hit some balls hard tonight. We didn't get the results. That's baseball."
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.