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Royals swept by Detroit

By Blair Kerkhoff
McClatchy-Tribune

May 04 — Among the positive developments for last season's Royals was the ability to stand up to its most frequent opponents, in the American League's Central Division.

Kansas City posted a winning record against three of the four foes, including division champion Detroit.

The trend hasn't carried over, and is working decidedly against the Royals, who fell to the Tigers 9-4 on Sunday.

The outcome completed the Tigers' three-game sweep against the team that started the weekend with a two-game deficit in the standing. The Royals head to San Diego for a series that begins Monday a season-high five games back.

At least the Royals avoid Central bullies for a couple of weeks. Their 0-5 record against the Tigers makes them 5-13 against the division and 9-3 against everybody else.

Sunday's contest belonged to Tigers start Justin Verlander for six innings. He held the Royals hitless for five innings and seemed to be getting stronger as the game progressed. A third career no-hitter looked possible.

Verlander's mastery wasn't the only part of the equation. Royals' bats had gone stone cold in this series.

After scoring a run in the first inning on Friday, the Royals had been outscored 24-3 entering Sunday's sixth.

The season-long power outage was continuing, but now the Royals couldn't muster a hit, must less string together a few for a rally.

Finally, with two outs in the sixth, Billy Butler stroked a solid single to right, and the 22,504 at Kauffman Stadium wouldn't see history.

No surprise Butler would spoil Verlander's bid. He entered the game with a .437 lifetime average against one of the game's top pitchers.

The Tigers also didn't get the satisfaction of a shutout after Jarrod Dyson one-hopped the wall in right for a two-run triple in the seven. He scored on Nori Aoki's sacrifice fly.

Aoki also drive in a run in the ninth with a single to center.

But it was nowhere near enough for the Royals, who were steamrolled throughout the series. The Tigers didn't miss many pitches over the weekend and on Sunday Jason Vargas felt their wrath.

The Tigers got in their hacks in each of Vargas' five innings and built a 7-0 lead. Nick Castellanos got things started with a second-inning solo home run.

Vargas came close to working out of trouble in the third, but Royals-killer Torii Hunter soft served a two-out RBI single for career RBI No. 120 against the Royals.

By the time Miguel Cabrera stroked a two-run double in the fourth, the Tigers were well on their way but just for good measure, Alex Avila crushed a two-run homer to center in fifth.

The Royals led for the first two innings of the series and not again.