DETROIT — Three takeaways from the Royals’ 4-3 loss to the Tigers at Comerica Park on Friday.
Lopez overcomes rough start
Royals starter Jorge Lopez got off to a slow start, giving up three runs in the first.
Lopez walked the leadoff man on four pitches, and back-to-back singles brought in a run. A fielder’s choice by Ronny Rodriguez scored the second run. A wild pitch brought home the third run, though it was a close play at the plate when Lopez took the throw from catcher Martin Maldonado and made the tag.
Rodriguez belted an RBI double off Lopez in the third to make it 4-0.
But from there, Lopez was dominant. He retired 14 of the final 15 hitters he faced, and only allowed two hits after the first. He struck out six over seven innings.
“Rough first inning, made a couple mistakes with sliders,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “But after that he was outstanding. He just got sharper and sharper. He had it all going.”
Lopez said afterward he made a minor adjustment mechanically to get his fastball down in the zone. And he also was just determined to forget about the first-inning results.
“We just got to forget about that first inning,” he said. “We just got to keep pounding, executing all the pitches and keep ready, keep focus on the next one. That first inning, just every pitch was up. I couldn’t execute that fastball. The way I finished strong, it gives me a little confidence to get another [good start] and have opportunity to feel better.”
Yet another triple
It’s no secret the Royals have been a triple-hitting machine this year.
Last year the Royals had 29 triples in 162 games.
Rookie third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez notched the Royals’ 18th this season, ripping a Matthew Boyd fastball into the left-center-field gap in the fourth, scoring Hunter Dozier.
One batter earlier, Jorge Soler drove in Alex Gordon with a sacrifice fly.
The Royals were upset when a challenge they issued in the first inning did not overturn a call. Lopez’s wild pitch allowed Rodriguez a chance to score but it appeared Lopez tagged him out, though Rodriguez was called safe.
Royals replay reviewer Bill Duplissea, who had the best record in MLB last season on challenges, challenged the safe call. But the call stood.
“Should have been a lot more exciting game because our video replay showed that guy was out at the plate by a foot,” Yost said. “Billy was very confident. I just looked at the video myself and he was out by a foot. When it takes that long [to review], you’re thinking, ‘What are they looking at? What are they doing?’ Hopefully we get an explanation for that [Saturday].”
Added Lopez: “I really feel that I had [him out] because when I stepped with my left foot to home plate I felt like I put that foot in front of home plate, and gave the tag. It was a really close play. I thought I had it. Just that second I put my foot on the plate, he hit me with his cleat. I felt like it was a really close play. They got the challenge and it was safe.”