DETROIT -- On a warm, drowsy Sunday afternoon, Comerica Park shook to life when Kansas City's Runelvys Hernandez drilled Carlos Guillen, the ball ricocheting off his navy blue batting helmet. The ensuing brawl overshadowed the 5-0 loss, a silent offense and a defensive performance that saw the Tigers bobble several balls and commit two errors. Detroit fell behind early and never recovered, as pitcher Mike Maroth (7-10) allowed four runs -- three earned -- in the first two innings and absorbed the loss. The Tigers (44-46) settled for a split in the four-game series against Kansas City. "I can't explain why it didn't seem like we were ready," manager Alan Trammell said. "We didn't play very sharp ... call it a little sloppiness."
The incident occurred, ironically, on Family Day, when players brought their kids to the ballpark and dressed them in Detroit uniforms. The conflict began in the first inning, when Hernandez hit Brandon Inge and Chris Shelton. Maroth then plunked David DeJesus with a two-out pitch in the second, prompting home plate umpire Marty Foster to issue a warning to both sides. In the wild sixth inning, both benches emptied and relievers streamed out of the bullpen gates, eventually setting off several shoving matches. The scene moved in waves from the first-base line to the Kansas City dugout as umpires, coaches and certain players tried to separate the packs and restore order for several minutes. Jose Lima, the Royals pitcher and a former Tiger, gripped Guillen, who shouted at Hernandez. Tigers coaches took turns attempting to restrain an animated Jeremy Bonderman, who wound up among a pile of players lumped along the first-base line. And Kyle Farnsworth, Detroit's new 6-foot-4, 240-pound closer, broke away from the scrum and executed a perfect form tackle, wrapping his arms around Kansas City's Jeremy Affeldt and slamming him to the ground. "When things start happening, it's a matter of you protect your teammates," third baseman Brandon Inge said afterward. "That's how it goes." The crew of umpires tossed Guillen, Bonderman and Farnsworth, as well as Kansas City's Hernandez, Emil Brown, Alberto Castillo and manager Buddy Bell. Hernandez (7-9) exited after pitching five shutout innings, limiting the Tigers to only two hits to earn the victory. After the game, Trammell said Guillen complained of dizziness and was taken to the hospital. In the Tigers clubhouse, few players doubted Hernandez's intentions. "That's no accident," outfielder Craig Monroe said bluntly. Catcher Vance Wilson, who started in place of Ivan Rodriguez, expressed similar skepticism: "You don't miss like that on a lefty. [Hernandez is] not a guy that pitches in. He's not a power guy." Hernandez received all the support he needed in the first inning, when Kansas City scored three runs, two of which were earned. Mike Sweeney launched a two-run homer, his 13th of the year, to left field. Brown followed with a single and advanced to third when Nook Logan misplayed the ball in center field. Terrence Long then skipped a single past drawn-in second baseman Omar Infante to drive in Brown. In the second inning, third baseman Mark Teahen deposited an 0-2 pitch into the left-field bullpen, the final run Maroth gave up before leaving in the seventh inning. The Tigers now head to Chicago's South Side for a three-game set against the White Sox, owners of the best record in baseball. "The fact of the matter is they kicked our [backsides] today," Wilson said. "We played a [terrible] baseball game. That's the only way to say it."
Patrick Mooney is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.