KANSAS CITY — While winning a wild ballgame, Detroit may have lost a valuable pitcher before he could even get onto the field.
Joel Zumaya, whose fastball can exceed 100 mph, was warming up in the bullpen during Saturday night’s 7-5 victory against Kansas City when he “felt something pop” in the middle knuckle of his pitching hand. He was hurried to the hospital.
“He threw a pitch in the bullpen, a fastball, and this joint, this (middle) knuckle, he felt something pop,” said manager Jim Leyland. “He’s being checked out at the hospital. That’s all the information I have for you at this time.”
A key member of the bullpen, Zumaya is 1-1 with a 3.63 ERA in 171/3 innings for the defending AL champions.
“I don’t want to make any comments yet because I don’t want to be premature,” Leyland said. “But I can tell you this, if it is a situation where we’ve lost Joel for a period of time, then that tests the character of your team and other guys have to step up. I’m assuming he’s going to be out for a while. I would guess. But I just don’t know.”
Craig Monroe hit a tie-breaking two-run single in the eighth to lift the Tigers to their sixth straight victory.
Magglio Ordonez, who homered in the sixth for Detroit, doubled home the tying run off Joakim Soria in the eighth.
Placido Polanco singled off Brandon Duckworth (0-2) with one out and then went all the way to third when Duckworth’s wild pitch bounced so crazily off the backstop first baseman Ross Gload had to retrieve it.
In the eighth and ninth, Royals’ right fielder Mark Teahen tied an American League record with two outfield assists to the plate. He made a strong throw to home to get Carlos Guillen trying to score on a fly ball out in the eighth.
Then he ended the ninth by throwing out Ivan Rodriguez.
In the sixth, Teahen, who converted to the outfield from this base this year, threw out Marcus Thames trying to stretch a double into a triple. The three outfield assists tied the Royals’ record set in their expansion year in 1969.
The Royals took a 4-1 lead off Mike Maroth on home runs by Mike Sweeney, Esteban German and Jason LaRue. But the bullpen frittered away the lead and Jose Mesa (1-1) got one out for the win.
Todd Jones pitched the ninth for his league-leading 12th save in 14 opportunities.