Ross sharp, Tigers win 5th straight; KC drops 6th in row
By NOAH TRISTER
AP Baseball Writer
DETROIT (AP) — Tyson Ross finally pitched at Comerica Park — and certainly enjoyed his new surroundings.
Ross pitched seven impressive innings, and the Detroit Tigers extended their winning streak to five with a 3-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.
Ross signed with the Tigers in the offseason, and Comerica was the last current ballpark he hadn’t pitched in. The 31-year-old right-hander allowed a run and five hits with a walk and eight strikeouts.
“It feels good,” he said. “Beautiful mound out there. It was nice to be out there for the first time and have such great defense behind me.”
Rookie outfielder Christin Stewart, whose grand slam lifted Detroit to a win Saturday, drove in two more runs to help the Tigers complete a three-game sweep of their first home series. Joe Jimenez pitched the eighth for Detroit and Shane Greene finished. Greene has saves in all seven victories this season for the Tigers and has not blown any.
With two outs in the ninth and a man on base, center fielder Niko Goodrum ended the game with a diving catch. Greene became the first pitcher since saves became an official stat in 1969 to earn seven in his team’s first 10 games.
Ross (1-1) and the Detroit relievers got plenty of help from their fielders. Catcher John Hicks threw out both Billy Hamilton and Whit Merrifield trying to steal.
Brad Keller (1-1) allowed three runs in six innings for the Royals, who have dropped six in a row. Because of off days, Keller was starting for the third time in his team’s first eight games.
“Going into the second inning, he was like 45 pitches before we got an out,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. “But he got it settled down a little bit, and was able to give us a good, strong six in that situation. I thought he threw the ball extremely well, too.”
Merrifield and Hamilton had three hits each for Kansas City. Merrifield extended his hitting streak to 28 games dating to last season. He’s just two shy of George Brett’s franchise record.
Merrifield led off the game with a double and eventually scored on Alex Gordon’s one-out groundout. Stewart tied it in the second with an RBI triple, and the Tigers took the lead when he scored on Gordon Beckham’s double play grounder.
Stewart added an RBI single in the sixth.
The Royals had two on with one out in the third and didn’t score, and they had men on first and third with one out in the eighth and came up empty again. Merrifield was caught stealing second in the eighth.
The speedy Royals were 6 for 7 on stolen base attempts before going 2 for 4 on Sunday.
“It’s just part of who we are. It’s our identity as a team,” Merrifield said. “The goal is to be more successful than not.”
Remarkably, Ross was the first starter for Detroit credited with a win this season — even though the Tigers’ rotation has a 2.02 ERA through 10 games.
“It is about throwing the ball over the plate and catching the ball. We’ve been doing a pretty nice job of that,” Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Our catcher threw out a couple guys — none bigger than one of the last ones — and our starting pitcher threw the ball over, really attacked, gave us another great performance out there.”
Royals: Hamilton stole second base in the third inning, but he paid a price when the throw hit him in the left arm, and his head appeared to crash into the glove of Detroit’s Josh Harrison. Both players were a bit shaken up but remained in the game.
Tigers: Detroit reinstated RHP Drew VerHagen (right shoulder) from the 10-day injured list to replace LHP Matt Moore, who went on the IL with a right knee injury.
Royals: Kansas City returns home to face Seattle. RHP Homer Bailey (0-0) starts for the Royals on Monday night against RHP Felix Hernandez (1-0).
Tigers: Detroit has Monday off before hosting a series with Cleveland. Jordan Zimmermann (0-0) takes the mound Tuesday for the Tigers against Corey Kluber (0-2).