Seven errors. 11 unearned runs. Starters that gave up six first-inning runs in line for wins. Bullpen implosions. An All Star slugger being ejected in the middle of an at-bat. Oh yeah, and it was 100 degrees outside.
As Ryan Lefebrve loves to say, "You can't beat fun at the old ballpark."
...Well, it all depends on your idea of "fun."
The Royals blew a seven-run lead before rallying back to edge the Blue Jays 11-10, taking the series from Toronto. At 52-34, Kansas City enters the All Star break having won eight of its last 10 games, sending off the team-record seven All Stars in style.
It couldn't have started any better for the Royals, who rattled Toronto starter Felix Doubront for six first-inning runs. A pair of singles preceded an Eric Hosmer RBI single to open the scoring. Kendrys Morales clobbered a 3-1 hanging off-speed offering into the left-field fountains for a three-run home run. Omar Infante doubled in Salvador Perez, who reached on an error. Finally, to top it all off, Paulo Orlando plated the team's sixth run with an infield single.
Royals win expectancy, end of the 1st: 94.2%
Edinson Volquez then worked five shutout frames despite falling behind hitters frequently and using a lot of pitches. In the bottom of the fifth, the Royals plated their seventh run of the contest with an RBI single by Eric Hosmer, who was thrown out trying to advance to second base, for some reason.
Royals win expectancy, end of the 5th: 98.9%
Then came the sixth inning of hell. Here's Toronto's half of the frame went: infield single, error on Moustakas, RBI double (7-1), RBI groundout (7-2), walk, Volquez relieved, Madson enters, error on Infante (7-3), RBI double (7-5), RBI double (7-6), RBI single (7-7), flyout, RBI single (7-8), Madson relieved, Herrera enters, groundout.
The Blue Jays flexed their muscles by mashing a handful of hits, but the majority of this damage was self-inflected by Kansas City. The latter of the two errors ruined a gift-wrapped double play ball that would have gotten Madson out of the inning with a 7-3 lead. Simple fundamental mistakes also complicated the situation, as Royal outfielders would fire throws home on singles, allowing the trailing runner to move into scoring position.
Volquez' final line: 5.1 innings, five hits, four runs (but only one earned), three walks, and two strikes. He threw 104 pitches. Madson only completed 1/3 of an inning while surrendering four hits and four runs, all of which were unearned.
Royals win expectancy, middle of the 6th: 37.4%
By this point, fans were so angry that several left Kauffman Stadium. Others vented rage on Twitter, proclaiming that they could be witnessing a "season turning" loss. Before the Twitter trolls could continue their rants, the Royals plated three runs of their own in the bottom half of the sixth to retake the lead. Infante and Alex Rios opened the frame with singles, were moved into scoring position on a bunt by Orlando, and scored when Jose Reyes was unable to handle a grounder from Alcides Escobar. This was the game's sixth error, and after Lorenzo Cain singled home another run two hitters later, Kansas City was back up, 10-8.
Royals win expectancy, end of the 6th: 83.5%
The Royals had a lead after six innings. The cyborgs were called upon. Unfortunately, on a day as abnormal as Sunday, not even they could keep the game tied. Mike Moustakas' second error of the game put Chris Colabello on base for Russell Martin, who clobbered an RBI double to cut the lead in half. Later in the inning, a wild pitch advanced Martin to third, and he rounded the base to threaten to run home. Perez wasn't having any of it; he fired to third base to gun down Toronto's catcher and keep the tying run off the bases, for the time being.
Royals win expectancy, end of the 7th: 76.3%
Next entered Wade Davis and his 0.24 ERA. Kevin Pillar muscled an opposite-field triple when Rios took a horrific route, and he came around to score on an RBI single by Reyes. Davis' ERA ballooned to 0.46, but it's amazing to think that he enters the All Star break having allowed just two runs in 39.0 innings. Once again, the game was tied, this time 10-10.
Royals win expectancy, middle of the 8th: 60.0%
That's when Paulo Orlando decided that he'd seen enough of this crap. He hammered Bo Schultz' fastball into the Sonic Slam seats in left field to give the Royals their 11th run of the game, their most since May 15. Both of Orlando's home runs this home-stand have proved to be game-winners for the recently recalled rookie outfielder.
Orlando's third home run of the year came on a special day for him: his wife and daughter had just gotten into Kansas City today, and it was their first time seeing him play a game at the major league level. They were flying a Brazilian flag in the first-base club plaza seats, and they couldn't have picked a better first game to witness.
Greg Holland proved to be the only Kansas City pitcher to work Sunday without allowing a run. He earned his 19th save in 21 chances by working around a one-out walk in the ninth. The game ended on a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play because...of course it did.
Davis (5-1) earned the win despite also being charged with a blown save. Schultz (0-1) took the loss for the Blue Jays, who dipped back under .500 despite having the best run differential in baseball.
Oh, and the Tigers lost so that means that the Royals are NINE games up on Detroit at the break. NINE. Minnesota sits at 4.5 back, but there's little disagreement that if Kansas City simply takes care of business, there's no reason they shouldn't be American League central champions come September.
More random notes from this game:
- The eight unearned runs allowed tie a Royals franchise record for a single game.
- Kendrys Morales now has 61 RBIs, which ranks second in the American League.
- Edinson Volquez' teams are now 23-0 since the beginning of last year when he gets at least four runs of support. If we had just thought of this during that sixth inning, we could have saved ourselves a lot of worrying.
One of the most exciting first halves of Kansas City baseball concluded with a bang. The Royals are on pace for 97 wins. They're 18 over .500 at the break for the first time in team history. They have seven All Stars. They just went 8-3 on the 11-game homestand, averaging over five runs per contest in the process. When the second half of the season begins, the Royals will find themselves in Chicago for a four-game series with the White Sox. Friday will be a day-night doubleheader to make up a rainout from April; Chris Young and Edinson Volquez will oppose Jeff Samardzija and John Danks.
As fun as that was...more 3-0 wins, please. I can't take another whole half of these.