For much of 2016, the Kansas City Royals’ inconsistent offense has plagued them, damning the World Champions with impotency in a suddenly dong-fueled, juiced-ball environment. With consistency proving elusive in the grind of the 162-game slate, the Royals’ attack was fueled this afternoon by unlikely sources of power.
After being spotted a one-run lead in the top of the second behind a Justin Morneau double and subsequent Todd Frazier RBI single, Carlos Rodon served up second-inning dongs to both Paulo Orlando and Alcides Escobar, a pair one could hardly expect to record the first Royal home runs off the promising southpaw in his five career starts.
The Royals’ 2-1 lead held until the fourth when Yordano Ventura left a 97.8-MPH two-seamer low but over the heart of the plate to the powerful Jose Abreu. Abreu destroyed the ball, sending it over the third wall in center to tie the game at two apiece.
The Royals waited an inning before jumping back on top. Billy Burns and Whit Merrifield reached on no-out singles - Burns advancing to second on a Rodon throwing error and Merrifield advancing to second on a stolen base to put two runners in scoring position for Eric Hosmer. Bailed out by the sun on a should-have-been pop-out, Hosmer scorched a ground-ball single past second baseman Carlos Sanchez to drive in Burns.
With the Royals leading 3-2 and two aboard, Kendrys Morales stepped to the plate. Feeling the heat, Morales crushed a four-seamer left in the sweet spot of the zone for his 29th hung dong of the season.
Rodon gave way to Juan Minaya, who sent down the next three Royals in order to get out of the inning, but the Royals had taken a 6-2 lead heading to the sixth inning.
The Royals added to their total in the sixth against reliever Blake Smith, as Billy Burns legged out his second infield single of the afternoon to get things started. Whit Merrifield stroked a double over Melky Cabrera’s head in left, scoring Burns. Eric Hosmer followed with a liner to center for his 97th run batted in on the year and second on the afternoon.
Having thrown only 72 pitches and pitching with a six-run lead, Ventura’s first pitch of the top of the seventh was obliterated by Carlos Sanchez, a man not known for his power. Thankfully for the Royals, Ventura settled back down and made it through the rest of the inning by getting by Adam Eaton, Tim Anderson, and Melky Cabrera for the third time on the day.
With a still lowish pitch count of 86, Yordano Ventura came out to face the trio of Jose Abreu, Justin Morneau, and Todd Frazier for a fourth time. Holding a five-run lead, this made sense from a preservation of bullpen perspective, despite the fact that these three had collected four singles, a double, and a homer against the Royals’ flamethower to this point. Ventura sent the trio down in order, striking out Frazier to end the eighth.
Looking at the bottom third of the order in the queue in the top of the ninth, Ned Yost sent Ventura out to finish the game in the ninth. Ventura did as Yost hoped. His line on the day was as follows: nine innings, nine hits, two homers allowed, one walk, five strikeouts, and three earned runs allowed.
The Royals improved to 77-73. With a lot of action left on today’s slate, their place in the playoff picture has yet to be reconfigured today, though the win certainly doesn’t hurt. They’re still an extreme longshot, though that hasn’t stopped them in the recent past.