KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Perhaps the Royals should lobby to play all their games against Detroit on the road.
For the fourth straight time, the Tigers waltzed into Kauffman Stadium and made themselves feel right at home. They piled up 19 hits, set a season high for runs and rolled to a 16-4 win Thursday night that extended their AL Central lead to 5 1/2 games over Kansas City.
Everybody in Detroit’s lineup had at least one hit and scored one run to support Drew Smyly (5-8), who allowed four runs on eight hits and a walk in 6 2-3 innings. That included two players who entered the game midway through so that the Tigers could rest some of their stars.
“We didn’t pitch good tonight. That’s the bottom line,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “That’s why they scored 16 runs. We didn’t pitch good and we fell out of the game early.”
That’s generally been the case against Detroit at home. The Tigers have outscored the Royals by a combined 42-12 at the K, while the teams have split their six meetings at Comerica Park.
“They pounded us at our place,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “It evens out. Those guys are professional players. They’ll come in tomorrow and not worry about what happened today.”
Jeremy Guthrie (5-8) gave up a career-worst eight earned runs on eight hits, three walks and two hit batters. He was mercifully pulled with no outs in the fifth, which means the Royals’ veteran has allowed 16 earned runs in eight-plus innings covering his last two starts.
The Tigers stunned the Royals with three runs in the first, added three more in the fourth and delivered the haymaker with a season-best eight-run fifth that churned through three pitchers.
“I’d rather lose 2-1 and look back on one bad pitch,” Guthrie said, “instead of 20.”
Torii Hunter led the charge for Detroit, leading off the fifth with a homer and adding a single later in the inning to finish with three RBIs. Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez also drove in three, and Ian Kinsler, Nick Castellanos and Eugenio Suarez drove in two runs apiece.
Billy Butler homered in the fourth for KC. Eric Hosmer hit a two-run shot in the seventh.
“Losing is never easy. Anytime, it’s not fun,” Butler said. “Obviously that game took a long time. It felt like they were hitting the whole time.”
The tone of the game was set in the first inning, when four of the first five Tigers reached base. A series of singles, groundouts and sacrifice flies resulted in a 3-0 lead.
“It gives you a little less pep for the game when it starts out like that,” Guthrie said.
Kansas City scratched out a run in the second, only for Detroit to score three more in the fourth. Cabrera delivered the big blow with a two-out, two-run double.
The floodgates finally opened in the fifth, when Hunter began a parade of 12 batters to the plate with his 12th homer of the season. Castellanos also had two hits in the inning, and everybody in the lineup besides Austin Jackson and Don Kelly reached base before the carnage was over.
Guthrie was pulled after two batters, and recently signed Royals reliever Scott Downs gave up two more runs while retiring one batter. Louis Coleman, recalled from Triple-A Omaha, gave up four more runs to cap the worst pitching performance by the Royals this season.
Kansas City had previously allowed 12 runs in a loss to Toronto on May 31.
“It’s not a big series. It’s just another series. It was no statement,” Hunter said. “It’s a good win because it’s in the division, but we weren’t trying to send a statement.”
Even if they sent one anyway.
“We’ll just throw it away and move on,” Yost said. “We’ll just let it go.”