In stark contrast to last night's affair, the Royals and Pirates engaged in what would normally be termed a pitchers' duel but probably cannot be due to the fact that Jason Vargas--Kansas City's starter for the tilt--recorded a total of four outs on 26 pitches before leaving the game with an apparent left elbow injury (more on that here).
A few batters before Vargas left, Starling Marte slugged what was initially ruled a home run on the field after the ball took one of the most unusual bounces off the wall in recent memory at Kauffman. Hit to left field, the ball made first contact with the top of the padding on the wall, at which point it took a high bounce into toward center field and over the fence into the bullpen. Ned Yost talked with home plate umpire Jerry Davis, who ordered an umpire's review on the play. Minutes later, a befuddled Starling Marte found himself standing at second base, credited with a ground-rule double on account of the ball first hitting the wall in fair territory and then landing over a different section of the wall.
Shortly thereafter, Vargas left the game with a medial elbow injury--the same elbow that led to two separate trips to the disabled list this season--and previous DFA-candidate Joe Blanton was thrust into the game in what nearly equated to a start. Blanton struck out the first four Pirates he faced, extracting the Royals from the jam Vargas had gotten them into before his elbow drove him from the game.
Blanton, Ryan Madson, Kelvin Herrera, and Wade Davis combined to shut down the Pirates' offense from that point forward, striking out eight while allowing just three hits and one walk through the end of the eighth inning.
At that point, the game was knotted up at 0 - 0 with Pirates' ace Gerrit Cole completely shutting down the Royals offense for the first seven innings of the night.
Then Omar Infante reached on a one-out error by his Pirate counterpart, Neil Walker. This is when the Royals pounced. Alex Rios stroked what should have been a single, but Omar Infante was already aggressively rounding seCond on his way to third and McCutchen opted to throw to third. Rios alertly took second on the throw. A batter later, Jarrod Dyson stroked a single of his own and advanced another base on a Gregory Polanco fielding error. Dyson immediately stole third, and Alcides Escobar ripped a single off of Cole's wonderfully named replacement Arquimedes Caminero, driving in Dyson.
Though Greg Holland did his best to undo the stellar work the bullpen had done up to that point, inducing near heart attacks across the Heartland tonight (in a situation in which Cool Stuff would surely have stayed in the game had Kansas City not taken the lead, as he had thrown just six pitches), the Royals escaped with a bases-loaded jam in the top of the ninth with a 3 - 1 win over the Pirates.