Pit stache. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE
What a grotesque game. At least, it ended with a win and a more important development, Yuniesky Betancourt getting designated for assignment following the game (h/t thelaundry and aerobica/MJR who were watching the presser in the overflow game thread). Of course, Tony Abreu got called up, not Johnny Giavotella. Baby steps.
The Royals won with the Rangers turning into the Royals in the ninth and beyond. But don't you worry, kiddos, the Royals were still the Royals, showing the world you can actually win a game playing Kansas City Royals baseball™.
Free baseball led to a two-error-fueled rally in the bottom of the tenth after Greg Holland worked his way out of a bases-loaded coronary event in waiting in the top of the inning.
Michael Kirkman walked Billy Butler to kick off the Royals' half of the tenth. Hosmer pinch-ran for Butler and should have been erased at second with a Salvador Perez grounder smoked directly to substitute shortstop Alberto Gonzalez, who had the ball escape his grasp before he could turn the sure double play. Francoeur then chopped a grounder on the grass to rookie third baseman Mike Olt, who turned to second in an attempt to turn the double play only to sail the ball to the first-base side of the bag and into right field, plating the winning run in the form of a soon-to-be-bruised Eric Hosmer.
The Rangers scored five of their six runs in the top of the fourth inning with the Royals completely unraveling defensively in a way that harkened back to the halcyon days of Chip Ambres and Terrence Long. Luke Hochevar saw Josh Hamilton lead off the inning with a "double" in which a lined ball on the grass skittered under Jeff Francoeur's pursuant glove and worked its way back to the wall, turning a single into a double. Not to be outdone, Hochevar promptly advanced Hamilton to third by way of a wild pitch before an Adrian Beltre single plated Hamilton. Hochevar struck the next batter he faced, Nelson Cruz, teaching him a lesson about how baseball is played in Kansas City (read: poorly). David Murphy followed the hit-by pitch with a slow grounder to first that could only be qualified as a message. As Butler turned to throw to second in the hopes of turning a double play--don't worry, it wasn't the fabled 3-6-3 double play of which Butler is so clearly unable to turn--he saw that he'd have to get the ball to second much faster than he'd thought and rushed the throw, airmailing the throw over Alcides Escobar's leaping glove and into left field and scoring Beltre in the process. If you think this paragraph is getting long (and mind you, there are no outs, so it will get longer), imagine what it was like sitting through this half-inning. Hochevar then struck out Mike Napoli swinging only to walk the next batter, well-known James K. Polk fan Mitch Moreland. Mike Olt hit a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Nelson Cruz for the second out. Elvis Andrus followed the sacrifice with a liner to Francoeur in right, whose name we've heard before in this inning. Francoeur started in on the ball only to find that the ball was hit harder than he'd anticipated, sprint back (inasmuch as Francoeur can sprint at this point) in an attempt to correct himself, and reach for the ball that just missed his outstretched glove. Instead of a third out, Murphy and Moreland scored, and Andrus stood on third to watch Michael Young finally and mercifully ground to short for the final out of the inning.
Five runs. At least two should not have scored. If the defense executed routine plays routinely, Hamilton is the only Ranger to score.
In the ninth, fans at Kauffman Stadium were treated to a spectacular display of big league management. With no outs and Mike Olt standing on third after walking and advancing to third on an errant Salvador Perez throw to second on an attempted steal, Ron Washington Yosted away a runner on third by electing to suicide squeeze with Andrus, who was unable to put wood on a breaking ball in the dirt. Olt would have scored on either of the next two plays, but when in Kansas City...
Not to be outdone, Ned Yost was determined to show Ron Washington how you small-ball in Kansas City. Brayan Pena drew a lead-off walk, matching Olt's feat, and Yost gave Mistake-Free Chris Getz the nod. Getz pop-bunted to the pitcher, Robbie Ross, recording the first out in the bottom of the ninth, failing to advance Pena to second for slugger Jarrod Dyson. Dyson struck out looking, Escobar drew a walk, and Lorenzo Cain eventually recorded the final out for the Royals with a standard grounder to third.
The Royals highlights included and were arguably limited to a two-run Salvador Perez double in the first and dong-hangings from Brayan Pena and Jeff Francoeur.
The real highlight, however, came after the game in which it was announced that the heinous Yuniesky Betancourt was designated for assignment and Tony Abreu was puzzlingly called up to take his place on the 25-man roster. Johnny Giavotella must have screwed everyone in the front office's wife.