Detroit The Kansas City Royals had Max Scherzer on the ropes Wednesday night. Problem was they couldn’t finish him off.
Scherzer allowed five runs over five innings, with three Tigers relievers finishing the game, and Victor Martinez drove in a pair of runs to lead Detroit to a 7-5 win over the Royals.
Kansas City loaded the bases on two walks and an infield single while trailing 7-4 in the fifth inning. Billy Butler grounded into a force at the plate before Scherzer walked Eric Hosmer to force in a run.
That, though, was where the rally ended.
Scherzer struck out Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas to end the inning, and Kansas City couldn’t score in four innings against Detroit’s bullpen.
“That fifth inning really hurt us,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “We did some nice things to get the bases loaded, and then we only got one run out of it. We had a couple chances after that, and never did anything, so we only ended up with the one big inning.”
Wade Davis (2-1) took the loss, giving up seven runs — three earned — in 3 2/3 innings. Davis allowed eight hits and four walks while only getting 11 outs. Yost felt the 39-degree weather had an effect on both starting pitchers.
“Pitchers need to be able to feel the ball with their fingertips — that’s how they are able to manipulate it,” Yost said. “When it is this cold, you can’t do that. I’m sure that was a big part of Wade’s problem, but it didn’t help Scherzer, either. Everyone has the same problems on a day like this.”
Scherzer (2-0) got the win but wasn’t happy with his performance.
“I pride myself on not walking guys, and then I went out and walked three guys in one inning,” he said. “Yes, it was cold, but there’s no excuse for that.”
Jose Valverde, called up earlier in the day, picked up the save with a perfect ninth inning.
Valverde lost the closing role during last year’s postseason and wasn’t offered a contract, but signed a minor-league deal earlier this month and returned to Detroit after a short minor-league stint.
The Tigers took the lead on Omar Infante’s RBI single in the second, but Kansas City responded with four runs in the third. Salvador Perez and Chris Getz started the inning with singles, and Alex Gordon tied the game with a double. Alcides Escobar and Billy Butler made it 3-1 with RBI singles, giving the Royals five straight hits, and Eric Hosmer drove in the fourth run with a long sacrifice fly.
The Tigers added two more in their half of the third on Victor Martinez’s RBI double and Jhonny Peralta’s run-scoring single. Martinez tried to score from second on Peralta’s double, and was beaten so badly by Jeff Francoeur’s throw from right that he veered off for the dugout and was called out for leaving the basepath.
Detroit took control in the fourth when Infante scored on a Mike Moustakas error and Miguel Cabrera followed with a tie-breaking sacrifice fly. Martinez added an RBI single, chasing Davis, but Luis Mendoza walked the next two batters to force in a seventh run.
“That play was entirely on me,” Moustakas said. “Wade needed a groundball, and he got one, and it went right through my legs. The ball didn’t do a thing — I just came up on it.”
Kansas City’s best chance against Detroit’s bullpen came when Al Alburquerque walked two batters in the seventh, but Joaquin Benoit retired Cain to escape the jam.