Royals’ bullpen falters after Taylor’s homer

KANSAS CITY — Just as it looked like the Royals had singled and homered their way to a series-opening win over the Tigers on Friday night, it was the Kansas City bullpen — a strength this season and especially lately — that cracked in the late innings.

Miguel Cabrera’s grand slam off Greg Holland in the seventh inning was the difference in the Royals’ 7-5 loss at Kauffman Stadium. With two outs and the bases loaded, Holland left a slider up to Cabrera, and the future Hall of Famer rocketed it 405 feet for his second home run of the game.

Kansas City had a win within sight after Ryan O’Hearn’s RBI single and Michael A. Taylor’s two-run homer in the sixth inning put them up, 5-3. Starter Mike Minor had been solid with eight strikeouts over six innings, scattering eight hits but only allowing three runs and no walks.

But the veteran left-hander gave up consecutive singles to start the seventh, bringing his total to 10 in six-plus innings, and with the top of the order coming up, manager Mike Matheny turned things over to his bullpen, which had a 0.72 ERA (two earned runs in 25 innings) over its previous eight games entering Friday. It was one of three bullpen units during that stretch to not give up a home run, joining the Cubs and Marlins.

Tyler Zuber loaded the bases on Robbie Grossman’s single, but he got the first out at home on a wild pitch. Zuber reloaded the bases on Jonathan Schoop’s walk, but he got the second out on a 97 mph fastball that Jeimer Candelario watched for strike three. That’s when Holland came in for Cabrera, who got to a 3-2 count before launching the slider over the left-center-field wall.