Kendrys Morales hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the thirteenth off Jason Grilli to win the game for the Royals 4-2 over the Atlanta Braves. The game was a wild one that saw the Royals use nine different pitchers, saw the Braves leave 12 runners on base, and ended with the ice cold Kendrys Morales getting his first hit of the day, a ball to dead center field for the game winner.
Royals fans watched in nervous anticipation as Danny Duffy made his return to the rotation, and the Duff-man did not disappoint. After allowing a lead off single, he struck out the side in the first, relying mostly upon his fastball. Duffy had an efficient 1-2-3 inning in the second, collecting another strikeout. Duffy struck out Mallex Smith to lead off the third, but ran into some trouble with two outs after issuing walks to Nick Markakis and Gordon Beckham. But Duffy was able to induce Freddie Freeman into a harmless ground out to end the threat. Duffy ended the day with three shutout innings, five strikeouts, two walks, and one hit allowed, and one fantastic defensive play.
Meanwhile, the Royals offense continued to sputter against young Braves right-hander Matt Wisler. They managed to take an early lead in the first when Alcides Escobar led off with a double. Eric Hosmer would drive him home for his 17th RBI of the year. Wisler retired 15 of the next 17 hitters to keep it a 1-0 Royals lead .
The Royals had something going in the sixth. With one out, Eric Hosmer doubled, to put a runner in scoring position. Kendrys Morales sent a ball to the warning track in deep right field only to be caught, but Hosmer failed to tag up, keeping him at second base. When Salvador Perez singled, third base coach Mike Jirschele waved Hosmer home only to have him easily thrown out at the plate.
The Braves might have tied it in the seventh when Chase d'Arnaud led off with a double to the gap against Joakim Soria. But Mallex Smith popped a bunt attempt up for an out, and when pinch-hitter Kelly Johnson hit a grounder to Alcides Escobar, d'Arnaud inexplicably broke for third, making for an easy out for Esky. Nick Markakis grounded out to end the threat.
Jarrod Dyson opened the eighth with a double off Matt Wisler, who was left to throw 116 pitches, although he never really had a high-stress inning. Alcides Escobar blooped a ball down the right field line that scored Dyson, one of his four hits on the day. Escobar was thrown out trying to reach second on a play that upon review, seemed to indicate Esky was safe, but was not overturned by the replay official.
The Royals appeared to have things wrapped up, but Wade Davis had a rare blown save. Ender Inciarte led off with a bloop single, and Davis walked Chase d'Arnaud on four pitches. Mallex Smith snuck a ground ball just down the line in right field to score a run and move d'Arnaud to third, but Smith stumbled getting to second and was thrown out. Erick Aybar blooped a ball to right to score the run and tie things up 2-2.
The Royals had a few chances to win it before Morales' blast. Omar Infante led off the tenth with a sharp single to left, advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jarrod Dyson. Infante made it to third on a flyball to deep right field by Alcides Escobar. But after hitting Alex Gordon, lefty Ian Krol was able to get Eric Hosmer to harmlessly ground out to end the inning.
Alcides Escobar singled to lead off the thirteenth off lefty reliever Eric O'Flaherty. The lefty retired Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer, but was pulled in favor of former All-Star Jason Grilli to face Kendrys Morales. The hitless slugger finally came through.
Here's Morales' home run swing. pic.twitter.com/R6RtKDoOyf— Yael T. Abouhalkah (@YaelTAbouhalkah) May 15, 2016
The Royals win the rubber match and salvage the series against one of the worst teams in baseball. But a series win is a series win, and this snaps a string of five series in a row the Royals lost, the last series win coming April 22-24 against Baltimore. The Royals will get a much bigger test tomorrow when the the high-flying Red Sox offense comes into town, but maybe this series win is just what the Royals need to springboard them back to their winning ways.