After jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the sixth, Jason Hammel served up three runs in short order, and the Royals’ offense went dead quiet. How dead quiet? Well, from the last out of the sixth until the first batter of the 11th, the Royals didn’t manage a hit. From Brandon Moss’s leadoff walk in the seventh until that Jorge Bonifacio’s leadoff single in the 11th, zero Royals reached base.
Neither the blown lead nor the prolonged offensive futility against a substandard bullpen mattered.
That’s what dongs do.
Facing Drew VerHagen for his third inning in relief, Salvador Pérez stepped to the plate leading off the 12th. Pérez hung magnificent dong. It was his 20th of the year and put his squad up 4-3 on the road in extras.
Next batter? Mike Moustakas. Glorious dong. His 29th on the season. That’s the third-best total in baseball, trailing just Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.
Steve Balboni was said to be weeping in his shower after getting inundated by texts from George Brett putting him on notice.
The Moose dong put the Royals up 5-3. Kelvin Herrera closed the game out without incident.
Going back to the earlier innings, Jason Hammel cruised through the first five innings, not allowing a run and giving up just three singles in the first five frames. Anyone who has seen a Jason Hammel start in a Royals uniform knows what happened next. For those who are unfamiliar with Hammel’s modus operandi:
- First time through the order: 3.40 FIP, .231/.298/.323 triple-slash, .275 wOBA against
- Second time through the order: 5.24 FIP, .255/.316/.417 triple-slash, .316 wOBA against
- Third time through the order: 5.18 FIP, .349/.403/.566 triple-slash, .402 wOBA against
That third time through the order penalty is real, and it’s AWFUL. Maybe there’s a reason Joe Maddon didn’t let Hammel face an order a third time, right Ned?
Hammel unraveled, put three of the first four runners he faced aboard in the sixth, ceding one run in the process. He got a comebacker that left him with just a play to first, putting runners at second and third with two outs. Ned Yost had seen enough and fingered Scott Alexander to try to extricate the Royals from the jam. A ground-ball machine, Alexander walked Victor Martinez. Bases loaded, he gave up a line drive single to Alex Avila, which thankfully only plated two runs, knotting the game up at three apiece.
Those three previous runs were largely due to the efforts of Jorge Bonifacio.
Bonifacio singled to lead off the fourth. Lorenzo Cain followed with a single to put runners at first and second. Eric Hosmer grounded out but moved the runners up, and with Salvador Pérez at the plate, Justin Verlander—feeling the heat of facing a man who completely owns him throughout their careers—uncorked a wild pitch. Bonifacio skittered home, and Cain raced to third. Pérez walked because Verlander was afeared of him, and Mike Moustakas hit a sacrifice fly to bring Cain home.
Then in the top of the sixth, Jorge Bonifacio led off with a dong of his own.
Jake Junis got credit for the Royals’ win thanks to his scoreless bottom of the 11th pitched. Kelvin Herrera got the save. Drew VerHagen got the loss.
The win was the Royals sixth in a row, holding pace with the first-place Cleveland baseball team, 1.5 games back. With the St. Petersburg Devil Rays having fallen in Russia to the Orioles, the Royals now own sole possession of the second Wild Card spot, and they moved to within half a game of the Yankees, who currently own the first Wild Card spot.