The Royals overcame some shaky pitching from Francisley Bueno by scoring six runs and defeating the Rangers 6-3 in the first of a three game set in Texas. The Royals improve to 71-56, and with Detroit getting absolutely hammered in Minnesota tonight, the Royals have a chance to take a 2.5 lead this late in the season for the first time since 1985.
The Rangers got on the board in the first after an Elvis Andrus single and an Alex Rios ground-rule double put runners at second and third. With Adrian Beltre up, followed by a hitter who has been under the Mendoza Line much of the year, I might have been tempted to pitch around Beltre even in the first inning. But Ventura was able to induce a ground ball out to third, scoring Andrus, although it appeared Mike Moustakas might have had a shot nailing the runner at home had he tried.
The Royals immediately took the lead back in the second when Billy Butler unloaded on a pitch for his eighth home run. That home run would prove not to be a rally-killer, as the Royals added two more in the inning on Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar RBI singles. Nori Aoki did kill the rally however, but inexplicably bunting with one out, an act that appeared to be on his own. Get your head on straight for the pennant stretch Nori!
Josh Willingham, who is proving to be one of the best mid-season acquisitions in Royals history, added a solo home run, his second with the ballclub in just over a week. Yordano Ventura was able to slice and dice through the Rangers lineup for the most part, exiting after six innings with just four hits allowed, three walks, and six strikeouts. It was his fifth consecutive Quality Start (Ryan Lefebvre bait!)
The Royals added a run in the seventh, but the Rangers added two after relievers not named "Kelvin Herrera", "Wade Davis" or "Greg Holland" continued to struggle. Francisley Bueno gave up a pair of doubles that would both come home to score to cut it to a 5-3 lead. But Kelvin Herrera was able to get out of it, and Wade Davis and Greg Holland finished the kill, as the Royals added an insurance run in the ninth for the 6-3 win.
The Royals lead by two games, and if Detroit loses, it will be the Royals largest lead since August 17, 2003. They have not had a lead this large this late in the year since 1985. Get crazy Kansas City.