DETROIT – Bobby Witt Jr.’s eighth-inning double drove in the go-ahead run and the Kansas City Royals edged the Detroit Tigers 3-2 on Sunday.
Witt Jr., who on Saturday became the fifth first-year player in major league history to have 20 home runs and 20 stoles bases, reached base three times. He has 24 go-ahead RBIs this season.
Royals manager Mike Matheny said Witt is emerging as a clutch hitter who can be compared with Salvador Perez.
“We make a big deal about Salvy and how when he gets in those situations, he's earned that reputation," Matheny said. “It's almost like he thrives on it. Bobby's starting to take that ownership onto himself, too, that this is a spot I want to be in, this is a spot that I thrive in.”
MJ Melendez scored a run and drove in another while Michael A. Taylor had three hits and scored a run.
The Royals, who hit four home runs in a 12-2 win on Saturday, struggled to push across runs most of the game. They left 13 runners on base and went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
“A couple of missed opportunities,” Matheny said. “Usually when we're having these conversations at the end of games and we leave money out there, less than two outs and a man on third, we're talking about what could've and should've happened. But they continued to stay with it.”
Winning pitcher Dylan Coleman (4-1) pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Scott Barlow collected his 21st save.
Royals starter Max Castillo, recalled from Triple-A Omaha before the game, allowed two runs and five hits and struck out five in 4 2/3 innings.
Detroit starter Matt Manning gave up two runs and five hits in four innings. Gregory Soto (2-8) took the loss.
Harold Castro's two-run homer accounted for Detroit's runs. Riley Greene extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a third-inning single.
“They came up with the big hit and we didn't,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said.
The Royals took a 2-0 lead in the fourth on Nicky Lopez's RBI single and Melendez's bases-loaded walk.
Manning got the last two outs of the inning but reached the 90-pitch mark in the process. Hinch used six relievers.
“We really needed as much as we could get from him,” Hinch said. “We're not in a good position going to the bullpen that early.”
Detroit quickly tied it in the bottom of the inning on Castro's sixth homer this season.
Kansas City left the bases loaded in the seventh.
In the eighth, Lopez was thrown out trying to score on a Melendez double. Witt's double past third baseman Jeimer Candelario drove in the go-ahead run.
CABRERA PLACED ON IL
Tigers designated hitter Miguel Cabrera was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left biceps strain. The team is hopeful Cabrera, 39, can return to the lineup before the end of the season. He was injured during the series opener on Friday.
“As soon as he can initiate strength exercises, that will be the next step for him,” Hinch said. “Once the strength gets to a certain point, when it's extended and he doesn't feel the resistance and it's not an issue, then he'll start his hitting program.”
Cabrera, who reached the 3,000-hit mark in April and has 506 home runs, will travel with the team on its road trip this week. He is batting .256 with four home runs and 37 RBIs in 102 games this season.
Royals: RHP Wyatt Mills, who pitched two scoreless innings in relief on Saturday, was optioned to Triple-A Omaha to make room for Castillo.
Tigers: With Cabrera sidelined, the Tigers recalled 1B Josh Lester from Triple-A Toledo. Lester was batting .243 with 25 homers and 82 RBIs for the Mud Hens. To make room on the 40-man roster, OF Austin Meadows was transferred to the 60-day IL. ... RHP Michael Pineda was designated for assignment and RHP Luis Castillo was called up from Toledo, Hinch announced after the game. Pineda is 2-7 with a 5.79 ERA.
Royals: RHP Brady Singer (7-4, 3.33 ERA) will start the opener of a three-game home series against the Cleveland Guardians on Monday. He's 2-0 with a 4.21 ERA in seven career appearances against Cleveland, including six starts.
Tigers: LHP Tyler Alexander (3-8, 4.76 ERA) will start the opener of a three-game road series against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday. Alexander’s only victory in six starts last month came against the Angels on Aug. 20, when he allowed three runs in six innings.