Royals winning is fun. Royals winning in the 9th inning is better. Fortunately/unfortunately, I was not able to use my ‘Rays Cobber the Royals’ pun in the title. Anyway. It was a solid win for the Kansas City Twenty-Five, as they came from behind on a night when their starting pitcher was forced out after only five innings.
In the first inning, Eric Hosmer hit a home run. This deserves a paragraph all on its own, and so shall it be. 1-0 Royals.
The fourth inning would turn out to be the decisive inning of the game. Salvador Perez opened the inning with a leadoff single. In the background, a horn sounded. Yes, readers, it was the sound of the all-powerful singles train. Omar Infante and Billy Butler grounded singles past the infield to load the bases with none out. Raul Ibanez, ancient wizard of baseball knowledge, made a productive out, grounding to first and scoring Perez. Unfortunately, Danny Valencia’s sharp liner was hit right to Evan Longoria and Escobar struck out swinging, ending the threat.
However, in the bottom of the inning, the Rays succeeded where the Royals failed. Yordano Ventura, who had been very good, encountered a loss of command. Longoria began with a single, and James Loney walked. Ventura labored through Brandon Guyer and Sean Rodriguez, giving up sharp outs to left fielder Ibanez. Jose Molina also walked, loading the bases with 2 outs. With one swing of the bat at a change up in the middle of the plate, Kevin Kiermaier hit a grand slam. 4-2 Rays.
In the top of the 8th, the singles train restarted through Infante and Butler, only to be violently stopped by an Ibanez strike out, a Valencia ground out, and an Alcides Escobar pop out. Aaron Crow proceeded to make the bottom of the 8th an adventure, loading the bases but squeaking out with a fly out to Jarrod Dyson.
Just like yesterday, however, the Royals came back in the 9th inning. Unlike yesterday, however, the Royals came through. Against Joel Peralta, Dyson singled. He proceeded to steal second while Lorenzo Cain struck out and stole third with Eric Hosmer at the plate. Hosmer walked, and then Salvador Perez, Master and Commander, smashed a home run to left field to see the Royals lead 5-4. In the ninth inning, Greg Holland Greg Hollanded, striking out two and allowing a measly ground out. Beautiful.
The Royals now stand at 47-43, heading into a crucial four game set against the division leading Tigers at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals could be as close as half a game out and as far away as 8.5 games out. That’s a pretty big shift. Let’s hope it’s closer to the former.