DETROIT — As the baseball soared through the night, Eric Hosmer took a moment to admire his work. He held his follow-through pose for a split second. He shifted his eyes toward the night sky, tracking the orbit of his blast. Moments later, he broke into a trot, peering at his teammates in the first-base dugout.
All Wednesday night at Comerica Park, the Royals had subsisted on a diet of singles, peppering the Detroit pitching staff with hits and contact. In a 16-2 victory over the Tigers — a blowout that featured a bench-clearing skirmish in the ninth inning — Hosmer offered a moment of thunder, delivering the finishing combination in the top of the seventh.
In a nine-run inning, Hosmer clubbed his first career grand slam, roping a 408-foot shot off Tigers reliever Warwick Saupold. The moment put a punctuation mark on a three-game sweep in Motown. Hosmer finished 5 for 6, matching his career high in hits, while finishing with six RBIs and five runs scored.
The blast electrified the Royals dugout — catcher Salvador Perez offered a rapturous scream upon contact — and guaranteed the winning streak would stretch to a season-high eight games. The decimation manifested into frustration for the Tigers when reliever Bruce Rondon plunked Mike Moustakas in the top of the ninth.
Moustakas spiked his bat in anger and stepped toward Rondon. Tigers catcher James McCann jumped in front and attempted to calm the situation. In moments, the benches and bullpens had cleared. The situation did not appear to escalate, though starter Danny Duffy appeared incensed at the pitch. Standing near the first-base dugout, Duffy had to be restrained by a member of the coaching staff. As the donnybrook came to an end, Duffy screamed and shouted toward a group of Tigers.
Before the late drama, the seventh inning had offered a snapshot at two different sides of a surging offense.
As the inning began, the Royals pieced together a rally with two doubles, five singles and a hit by pitch. And then Hosmer stepped to the plate. He cranked the first homer of the night and the Royals’ 14th in their last five games. In the end, 12 men would come to the plate, the outburst equaling the Royals’ most productive inning of the season.
For now, then, the freight train rolls on. The Royals piled up a season-high 22 hits, chasing Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez after 3.2 innings. Ten different players reached base.
As the offense purred, starter Ian Kennedy surrendered just one run in six innings. The bullpen continued its dominant run, stretching its streak without an earned run allowed to 30.1 innings.
When the night was over, the Royals (53-47) stood at six games over .500 for the first time this season. Their eight-game winning streak is the longest by the team since it won nine straight from Aug. 14-23, 2016, a mantis-fueled bender that featured a franchise record-breaking scoreless streak from the bullpen.
The club’s last eight-game winning streak stretched from Aug. 3-11 in 2014. On that night at Kauffman Stadium, the Royals notched victory No. 8 by beating Oakland starter Sonny Gray in a 3-2 win.
As the Royals sought to complete a second-straight three-game sweep, they faced off against Detroit’s Sanchez, a shell of the spectacular pitcher he once was. At 33 years old, Sanchez entered Wednesday with a 6.18 ERA in 18 appearances, including seven starts. The Kansas City offense did not take long to dig in.
They scored one run in the second and three in the third. The erupted for a nine-spot against the Tigers’ bullpen in the seventh before piling up three more in the ninth, an inning that featured some unanticipated drama.
When Hosmer recorded his fifth hit of the night, Lorenzo Cain scored from second. It appeared possible that Rondon took offense to the move. Moments later, Rondon hit Moustakas in the right arm. The benches emptied. But cooler heads prevailed.