Ian Kinsler is making himself a lot of friends in Detroit. In his second game as a Tiger, Kinsler knocked in both of the Tigers’ runs via a fourth inning solo home run and a walkoff single in the 10th to give the Tigers a 2-1 win over Kansas City.
After Max Scherzer tossed eight shutout innings and Royals starter Jason Vargas allowed only one run in seven, the bullpens were big factors in this one. First up was new Tigers closer Joe Nathan, who allowed a single and then walked two to load the bases and then allowed a sac fly to send the game into extra innings. In the 10th, Ned Yost decided to go with Tim Collins even though Greg Holland was fresh, having only faced one batter two days ago. Collins walked two and then gave up the game-winning hit to Kinsler. Or game-losing, depending on your point of view.
So, two games between the Tigers and Royals and two games where Ned Yost’s bullpen usage played a big role (on Monday Yost went with Wade Davis to start a tied ninth inning and only called on Holland once two men were on base).
The bullpen is supposed to be the Royals’ greatest strength, but Yost is doing his best to neutralize that in the early going.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.