Edinson Volquez whirled around on the mound as the drive by the Tigers' Justin Upton soared over his head, and for a moment wondered why Lorenzo Cain wasn't giving chase.
It turned out the Kansas City Royals' center fielder had been shading Upton toward right field.
It also turned out not to matter.
Volquez saw the blur of left-fielder Alex Gordon tracking it down at the warning track, laying out to make a diving grab on the dirt. The highlight catch by the perennial Gold Glove candidate helped Volquez go seven scoreless innings in Kansas City's 4-0 victory over Detroit on Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium.
"That was one of the best plays I've ever seen him make," said Volquez, who scattered five hits and a walk while striking out five. "That was good for me."
Volquez (3-0) retired the first eight batters and only had to wiggle out of one jam, when Alcides Escobar let a grounder go through his legs in the fourth inning. The Tigers went on to load the bases before Volquez struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia to end it.
Escobar atoned for his gaffe with a sacrifice fly off Mike Pelfrey (0-3) in the bottom half of the fourth. Lorenzo Cain also drove in a run, and Kansas City tacked on another when a double-steal turned into an error on third baseman Nick Castellanos that allowed a run to scamper home.
Pelfrey allowed all four runs – three of them earned – on eight hits and five walks in five innings
"I take the blame," said Pelfrey, who has struggled with command all season. "It's my fault. It's unacceptable. I need to be a lot better. I need to figure it out pretty fast. It's embarrassing."
Volquez stuck to his track record of this season rather than his history against the Tigers.
The veteran right-hander has only allowed four runs over 24 2/3 innings, and the Royals have won all four games he's started – though he had been just 1-4 with a 6.21 ERA against the Tigers.
He didn't have much trouble with them Thursday night.
Volquez's counterpart had all sorts of issues with the Royals, though. Pelfrey allowed five hits, two walks and two stolen bases to the first 12 batters he faced, though a timely double play and groundout with the bases loaded kept the damage to just one run.
The Royals left seven on base through the first four innings.
Despite the missed opportunities, they still managed to coax across some runs in Royals-like fashion. They slapped singles away from where the Tigers had shifted, laid down bunts to set up scoring chances and even showcased a little power on the homer by Moustakas in the fourth.
They also made their meager production look more daunting with some stellar defense.
Gordon threw out Jose Iglesias by several feet at third base to end the third, then began the fourth by making his diving catch at the track to rob Upton of extra bases.
"He's a Gold Glove outfielder so it's not shocking," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "It was a windy day, so it was doing something with it that made it more difficult.
Escobar also made a series of flashy plays deep in the hole at shortstop, and Eric Hosmer made a nifty grab at first base — though he forgot how many outs there were in the inning.
"I said, 'Hey, bro! We play three outs here,'" Volquez said with a smile.
Stats and streaks
Hosmer extended his AL-leading on-base streak to 23 games, while the Tigers' J.D. Martinez extended his streak to 19. ... Ian Kinsler had his fourth straight multi-hit game. He's the sixth Tigers player to have nine multi-hit games in the first 14 games of a season.
Take a breath
Ausmus gave outfielder Anthony Gose a mental break after he slammed his bat in frustration during a tough night at the plate Wednesday. "It's good to take a breath," Ausmus said.
Welcome back, Dad
The Royals reinstated right-hander Dillon Gee from the paternity list and optioned right-hander Miguel Almonte to Triple-A Omaha. Gee's wife gave birth to a daughter, Charlotte, on Monday.
The Royals send right-hander Chris Young to the mound Friday night to open a three-game set against the Orioles, while the Tigers begin a seven-game homestand with Justin Verlander taking on the Indians.