KANSAS CITY, Missouri -- The Detroit Tigers got a wonderful outing by right-handed pitcher Jordan Zimmermann to defeat the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium, 3-2.
The Tigers (8-5) shortstop, Ian Kinsler, got the first run of the game on the board with a double to center field off Ian Kennedy to score Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Jose Iglesias had a base running error on the prior at-bat and was thrown out. If Iglesias would not have made the mistake on the base path, he would have scored along with Saltalamacchia. Nevertheless, Detroit owned a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning.
Exactly three innings later, in the top of the sixth inning, Victor Martinez dropped a hit into center field. The hit scored Kinsler, which gave Martinez his 1,000th career RBI.
"The most important part of tonight," Martinez said, "is we were able to win."
Martinez joined Miguel Cabrera, Andres Galarraga, Bobby Abreu and Magglio Ordonez as the only Venezuelan-born players with 1,000 RBI.
Zimermann (3-0, 0.00 ERA) allowed seven hits and a walk across 6.1 innings of work on Wednesday night. The right-hander, who signed a five-year, $110 million deal with Detroit this winter, struck out eight batters. Zimmermann has yet to allow a run over 19.1 innings, which is the longest scoreless streak to begin a season by a Tigers pitcher since 1913.
"Just keep pounding the zone. I had good fastball command for the first time all year," Zimmermann said. "I got two strikes on a lot of guys and was able to put them away."
Kennedy (2-1, 1.35 ERA) also went 6.1 innings, but the 31-year-old gave up two runs on six hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.
"I figured it was going to be a pitcher's duel," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
With a 2-0 lead in the top of the ninth inning, Kinsler picked up his second RBI of the game to score Saltalamacchia for the second time in the event, but this time off Chien-Ming Wang. The hit to center field gave the Tigers a 3-0 cushion for the bottom half of the inning.
Francisco Rodriguez, the Tigers closer, retired Kendrys Morales for the first out, but then gave up back-to-back solo home runs to Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez. Just like that, the Royals trailed by one run. Omar Infante grounded out for the second out and Rodriguez made it interesting by walking Jarrod Dyson and Alcides Escobar.
The Royals (9-5) had two runners on-base, two outs, and were down by one run with Mike Moustakas at the plate. Rodriguez, who is called K-Rod, struck out the 27-year-old third baseman to end the game in favor of the Tigers, 3-2.
"It was his to save or lose," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.
The Royals will send Edinson Volquez (2-0, 2.04 ERA) to the hill in the series finale on Thursday. The Tigers will counter with right-hander Mike Pelfrey.