Mayers' stellar spot start paves way for Royals' win
KANSAS CITY -- Over the course of a 162-game season, starting-pitching depth is always tested. Somewhere along the way, a manager has to find guys who can step up and seize the opportunity when injuries inevitably pile up.
Mike Mayers was that guy for the Royals on Tuesday. With the starting rotation in flux, Mayers made a spot start and it was one to remember for the veteran right-hander, who has spent most of his career working out of the bullpen. Mayers came out in precise fashion, filling the zone with strikes and fanning eight in the opening four innings. With that tone-setting effort by Mayers, the Royals managed to break a four-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory over the Tigers at Kauffman Stadium.
In his 200th big league appearance, Mayers was making just his seventh career start. He wavered in the fifth but wound up going 4 2/3 innings and allowing just one run.
“We’ve had some injuries, but every team is going to need spot starts or guys who come up from the Minors,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “You need quality depth if you are going to win games in the big leagues. Mike gave us that today.”
Mayers made his Royals debut last week in San Diego. He came on in relief and issued a career-high four walks in 2 2/3 innings. As he prepared for Tuesday’s start, Mayers was determined to keep those walks to a minimum.
Mission accomplished. Mayers walked only one Tiger and took a 3-0 lead to the fifth. Of the 67 pitches he threw over the opening four innings, he had 45 strikes.
“I would have liked to have gone a little deeper, but I was able to throw strikes with all of my pitches,” Mayers said. “When you do that, it keeps hitters off-balance. I definitely relied a little more heavily on my slider, but it was working and the command was good tonight.”
Mayers got ample support, primarily from second baseman Michael Massey and the Kansas City bullpen, which continues to be an overall bright spot.
Massey had the big hit in a three-run fourth when he produced an RBI double off Eduardo Rodriguez to get Kansas City on the scoreboard. An RBI hit by Maikel Garcia and a sacrifice fly by Salvador Perez provided Mayers with a 3-0 cushion.
The Tigers were within 4-1 in the sixth when an error by shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. loaded the bases with one out. But Massey came up big again when he was shaded up the middle and caught Jake Rogers’ liner for the second out.
“For Massey to make that play was absolutely a pivotal point in the game,” Quatraro said.
Reliever Jose Cuas then came back from a 3-1 count against Zach McKinstry to ring up a strikeout that ended Detroit’s only real threat.
The Royals could be on the verge of getting left-hander Daniel Lynch back from a left rotator cuff strain, which would fill one void in the rotation. As for Mayers, he’ll wait to see whether the Royals want him to make another start or work out of the bullpen.
“He certainly pitched well,” Quatraro said. “We’ll figure that stuff out in the coming days.”