08/30/08 11:24 PM ET
Tigers fall to Royals on Butler blasts
Trio of KC homers dooms Rogers, Tigers to defeat
By David Just / MLB.com
Just one day removed from a six-run inning that propelled the Tigers to a 6-3 win, the Royals had their say in the sixth inning on Saturday. With two outs in the inning and a tie ballgame, the Royals rallied for four runs, capped by Billy Butler's second home run of the game, and went on to down the Tigers, 13-3, at Comerica Park.
As the final score would indicate, the Royals didn't let up there. A five-run outburst in the eighth inning off reliever Nate Robertson put the game away for good.
"We just couldn't stop the bleeding," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We made a lot of bad pitches tonight, and that'll always haunt you."
Kenny Rogers has been no stranger to the Royals this season. In four previous starts against the pesky, last-place team, Rogers allowed 17 runs in 22 innings. Two of those starts, including last week's finale at Kauffman Stadium, saw the Royals get to Rogers for seven runs.
This time around, Rogers fared no better, allowing six runs in six innings of work. The left-hander surrendered eight hits, three of which went home as souvenirs. It was the first time he's allowed three home runs in a game this season. He gave up four against the White Sox on July 25, 2007.
Rogers is 21-19 lifetime against Kansas City with a 4.31 ERA. Given that the Royals have been the cellar dwellers for most of this season, Rogers couldn't help but feel frustrated that he can't seem to get the better of them.
"It tells you where I'm at," Rogers said. "I don't think my record against them is very good at all. So it tells you where I'm at with my ability level right now. So that's extremely frustrating."
It appeared at first that Rogers might escape the sixth inning unscathed. After the first two batters reached, Rogers got the necessary grounder from Alberto Callaspo to turn a double play. But the Royals didn't quit, smacking back-to-back singles before Butler sent Rogers' 2-0 offering 393 feet over the left-field wall.
"I didn't make any good pitches when I had two outs," Rogers said. "So without a doubt, that was the turning point in the game. It would have been really good to keep [the score] at 2-2 going into the bottom of the sixth, but I didn't locate very well, made some very poorly located pitches in that inning. I didn't give us a chance to win tonight, which is really frustrating. Hopefully, next time will be a little better.
Leyland had gone out to speak to Rogers before Butler's at-bat, but decided to stick with his starter.
"He gave me a chance to get out of the inning," Rogers said. "As a pitcher, you appreciate that, without a doubt. I was extremely disappointed because I didn't, you know, do what I was hoping to do. But also [that I didn't] reward his faith.
"As a pitcher, that's what you want -- to have a chance to get out of there on your own. I had two outs. It's frustrating when you give up two-out runs. My lack of being able to locate the ball where I wanted to for a while in the game was frustrating."
Leyland blamed only himself.
"I was hoping Kenny wouldn't give in to Butler," Leyland said. "He was obviously trying to pitch around him a little bit, and [Butler] got one down and hit the three-run homer, which killed us. So I take responsibility for that."
The Tigers' offense wasn't much help, though, either.
Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco and Matt Joyce hit leadoff triples for Detroit in the game. But each came home on a groundout, hurting the Tigers' opportunity for a big inning of their own.
For Granderson, it was his league-leading 12th triple of the season. He fell a home run shy of the cycle. On the whole, though, it was an unspectacular effort from an offense that entered the game ranked second in the American League in batting average at home.
"We still didn't do much offensively, in reality," Leyland said. "I thought we could have mustered a little more offense than we did."
There was a near-replay moment in the ninth when Polanco hit a blast to left that third base umpire Tom Hallion ruled foul. Leyland came out of the dugout to speak to Hallion, who conferred with the other umpires briefly before sticking with the foul ruling.
David Just is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.