KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Of all the hits that Tigers manager Brad Ausmus watched Wednesday night, the one that left a lasting impression had nothing to do with the four homers the Royals pounded out.
It was the pitch thrown by Yordano Ventura that hit Detroit's Ian Kinsler.
Kansas City's hard-throwing youngster has thrown at hitters before, and has been involved in a few scuffles with the Tigers. So when a fastball drilled his second baseman in the first inning of what turned into a 12-1 rout Wednesday night, Ausmus wondered about its intent.
"I had my doubts about it," he said.
Ventura said he was merely trying to pitch inside and it got away from him. Royals manager Ned Yost also said it was unintentional, though he demurred when asked whether the Tigers' Randy Wolf hitting Salvador Perez an inning later was retaliation.
Asked the same question, Ausmus replied: "Well, I mean in this game things usually take care of themselves, so I'm not really worried about it."
The Tigers had plenty of other things to worry about.
Ventura (10-7) struck out 11 while walking one in seven sharp innings. The 24-year-old with the 100 mph fastball has not allowed more than two earned runs in his last five outings, and is 6-0 since his last defeat July 20 against Pittsburgh.
Kendrys Morales hit a three-run shot, Cheslor Cuthbert added his first career homer, and Ben Zobrist and Lorenzo Cain also went deep as the AL Central leaders cranked out 14 hits.
"I couldn't throw my curveball for a strike to save my life," Wolf said. "My changeup was up. My fastball location wasn't where I wanted it to be. You put all those elements together, it's going to be tough to have a good night."
Wolf (0-3) gave up eight runs in 3 2-3 innings for Detroit, though he did last longer than Miguel Cabrera. The slugger was tossed by third base umpire Gary Cederstrom after fanning in the third inning, and after a quarrel with plate umpire Quinn Wolcott proved fruitless.
Even before Cabrera hit the showers, the Detroit hitters were sputtering.
After the Tigers put runners on the corners with one out in the first, Ventura allowed just one of the next 13 batters he faced to reach base. Ventura didn't give up a run until the sixth, when Anthony Gose hit a leadoff triple and scored on Kinsler's groundout.
By that point, the Royals already led 12-0.
Zobrist homered in the first to give Kansas City the lead, and Cuthbert — called up Tuesday when rosters expanded — added a two-run double in the second. Cain's home run in the third and a five-run fourth inning highlighted by Morales' towering shot to center made it a rout.
Cuthbert added his two-run homer during a three-run fifth.
Just about the only thing that didn't go right for Kansas City was when Cain fouled a pitch off his left calf in the fourth inning. He was checked out by trainer Nick Kenney and manager Ned Yost and remained in the game, and promptly hit a two-run double.
Cain was replaced by Jarrod Dyson for precautionary reasons in the fifth, and said after the game that his calf was "a little tight right now. Kind of hurts to walk but I'll be OK."
STATS AND STREAKS
Cabrera was ejected for the seventh time in his career and first since May 2014. ... The Royals scored in each of the first five innings for the first time since July 2000, when they did it against the White Sox. ... Cain has hit in 10 straight games.
Tigers: RHP Al Alburquerque (hip) had a precautionary MRI exam Wednesday, Ausmus said. The reliever has not pitched since Aug. 24.
Royals: RHP Ryan Madson (weak arm) hopes to return this week, Yost said. Madson last pitched Aug. 22. ... 3B Mike Moustakas (hamstring) got his second straight night off. "He's feeling well. Better," Yost said.
Tigers: LHP Matt Boyd starts the series finale against Kansas City, though Ausmus declined to say who would start Friday night against Cleveland. LHP Kyle Ryan could get the nod.
Royals: RHP Edinson Volquez (12-7) has lost twice to the Tigers this season, including a 2-1 defeat when David Price was on the mound for Detroit on May 2.