Today in Royals History: Kila Monster

Jonathan Ferrey

Home runs and Kila becomes a Royals folk hero. Spoiler alert: That status was fleeting.

A typical Thursday in Arlington where the Rangers jump all over Kyle Davies and Trey Hillman's Royals. Davies was touched for a pair of runs in the first (of course) and subsequently saw everything fall apart in a six-run third inning.

Then, the Royals began to chip away, with what else? The long ball. It was Arlington, after all.

Willie Bloomquist walked to open the fourth and Billy Butler homered. An inning later, back to back leadoff walks were brought home by a Scott Podsednik single and Butler sacrifice fly to cut the lead in half, 8-4.

Good fortune was spat upon by Davies (of course) and he was mercifully pulled by SABR Trey after a walk and a run-scoring double in the fifth. Exactly 100 pitches for Davies on the evening. Exactly nine runs. (Of course.)

The Royals kept working. In the sixth Jason Kendall drove in a run with a double. Mitch Maier brought him home with a single. And after a Yuniesky Betancourt walk, Podsednik yanked a ball over the wall in right. (Holy crap, read that sentence again. That alone is worth immortalizing in a post.)

The Royals finally tie the game in the seventh with an Alberto Callaspo two-run shot.

In the eighth, it's time for Kila Ka'aihue to make his mark on this franchise. As Royals fans, we have long been tempted to anoint minor league heroes as major league saviors. Kila wasn't any different. The dude raked in the minors and with Eric Hosmer working his way up the organizational ladder, he seemed like a perfectly amenable solution to the first base/designated hitter problem. Kila did well enough in a brief September audition in 2008, yet was inexplicably left adrift in Omaha for the entire 2009 season. When Rick Ankiel decided to go turkey hunting in early May 2010, the Royals gave Kila the return call.

Hillman brought him into the game as a pinch hitter for Bloomquist in the eighth. With the game tied at 11, Betancourt had singled to leadoff the inning. Podsednik moved him to second with a sac bunt. At the time, speculation as to why Kila hadn't received a call to the bigs centered over his lack of bat speed. Or as the Royals so eloquently put it, he had "slider bat speed." There was nothing slow about his bat speed when he yanked a fastball to right to give the Royals the lead, 12-11. Hero.

With the Royals nursing their single run margin and needing just six outs Hillman sent Robinson Tejeda back to the mound for the eighth. After he secured the first two outs, the Royals turned to closer Joakim Soria for the four out save. (Remember how we loved Hillman for his unconventional use of the modern closer?) Soria had been allowing a few more base runners than usual, but had found a way to escape. At that point, he had seven saves and a 2.31 ERA.

His first batter was Josh Hamilton.

Home run.

Tie game.

His next batter was Vladimir Guerrero.

Home run.

Rangers lead.

That quick. In the span of eight pitches, the Royals lock-down closer handed the game back to the Rangers. It was a stunning game, captured by the frenzied graph at FanGraphs:


Source: FanGraphs

Kila played in just one more game before he was sent back to Omaha. He returned later that summer and ultimately hit eight home runs in 206 plate appearances, posting a slash line of .217/.307/.394. The Royals traded him on September 27, 2011 to Oakland for Ethan Hollingsworth.

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