The Kansas City Royals, losers of five in a row, broke their losing streak on the back of some late-game heroics by former Chicago White Sox Melky Cabrera, who was returning to Chicago for the first time since being traded to Kansas City. A game-saving Mike Moustakas diving stop saved the 5-4 Royals victory.
The Royals, slumping along and desperately searching for a foothold to stop their speedy descent from playoff spots, hoped to find that foothold in White Sox starter James Shields. The former Royal has struggled extensively since leaving Kansas City, especially in the last two years.
And while the Royals didn’t score oodles of runs against Shields, they were able to tag him for a few. And they struck quickly, too; after watching Whit Merrifield and Lorenzo Cain strike out, Eric Hosmer lashed an opposite-field home run, giving the Royals a quick 1-0 lead. It was his 19th smasheroo of the year.
Kansas City added another two runs in the second inning. Mike Moustakas led off the frame with a quick double, and then scored on an Alcides Escobar triple. Whit Merrifield’s single scored Escobar, and suddenly after two innings the Royals led 3-0.
In the Royals’ recent stretch of games, though, it was the pitching that did them in. Ian Kennedy offered a blessed salve to the burns that the starting pitchers had been inflicting on the team. Through 6 1⁄3 innings, Kennedy sliced and diced through the black socked White Sox, striking out seven and walking only one. The only danger to him was giant Cuban Jose Abreu, who clocked two no-doubt solo home runs to left field.
Of course, part two of the pitching saga has been the bullpen, which has leaked runs like a Trump White House leaks confidential information. Tonight was no different. After accruing one out in the seventh inning, Kennedy walked Tim Anderson. With an elevated pitch count, Ned Yost deemed Kennedy’s night done and inserted Scott Alexander.
Alexander gave up two runs. At some point in the season, dear reader, you would be interested in how that happened. At this point in the losing streak, I’m guessing you are not interested. So we’ll move on.
Fortunately, moving on brings good things. In the top of the eighth inning, Cain worked a full count walk. Hosmer tapped a high bouncing grounder to second. Yoan Moncada bobbled the ball slightly, and was unable to get the double play.
That was fortuitous, it turns out. For Melky Cabrera worked a 2-2 count. Then, the Melk Man had his whey with the ball and crushed a two-run home run to put Kansas City ahead 5-4.
After an uneventful Joakim Soria outing in the bottom of the eighth inning, Kelvin Herrera came out to attempt his first save in eight days. After giving up a single, pinch runner Tyler Saladino stole second base. With two outs, Adam Engel ripped a line drive to third base. But a diving Moose made a spectacular grab, and said Moose rifled the ball to first base to finish the game.
Tomorrow, the Royals will play the White Sox again, Jason Vargas looking to bounce back from his last start.