We will remember the 2017 season as a frustrating one, but on the first night of meaningless baseball in Kansas City, the Royals staged a vintage Royals rally to beat the Tigers in a series winning 7- victory.
Paulo Orlando would prove to be the hero of this one, both with his glove and his bat, in the Royals first game out of postseason contention after being eliminated by a Twins 8-6 win last night.
Royals starter Jason Hammel has had as frustrating a season as any Royal, coming into tonight’s contest with an ERA well north of 5.00 and his night didn’t begin smoothly.
The Tigers jumped on Hammel quickly, with Ian Kinsler drawing a lead off walk before Alex Presley singled to left, to put runners on first and second with nobody out.
Fortunately, Hammel was able to limit most of the damage, aided by a fantastic catch by Paulo Orlando to record the first out that would have been an extra-base hit and potentially drove in two runs.
Kinsler would, however, move to third on the catch and score on a Jeimer Candelario single to put the Tigers up 1-0.
The Tigers were right back at it in the 3rd, getting three consecutive one-out singles from Presley, Nick Castellanos and Candelario, the last of which drove in a run. James McCann followed up with the Tigers fourth consecutive hit, this one a bloop RBI double down the left field line to put the Tigers up 3-0.
While Hammel did labor, he also settled down and was able to give the Royals six solid innings, striking out six and not giving up a run in his final three innings.
The Royals began chipping away in the bottom half of the third on a two-out, two RBI single from Melky Cabrera to bring the Royals within a run at 3-2.
They took that deficit into the bottom of the 7th, but an Alcides Escobar triple put the tying run on third with just one out. Alex Gordon was not able to come through, however, grounding out to first and failing to bring Escobar in. Luckily, Paulo Orlando was able to bail Alex out, sending a 2-0 breaking ball over the left field bullpen to put the Royals up 4-3.
It was the first home run on the season from Orlando, who had a frustrating season of his home, losing much of his season to injury.
After Scott Alexander pitched a clean 8th, the floodgates opened in the bottom half of the inning, starting with a Whit Merrifield single and a Cabrera double to put Royals on 2nd and 3rd with nobody out. An intentional walk of Eric Hosmer loaded the bases up for Mike Moustakas. With the count at 2-2, Chad Bell spiked a fastball that got by McCann to score Merrifield and make it a 5-3 game.
Moustakas would go on to walk and after the Tigers brought Shane Greene into the game, Escobar deposited a two RBI double over the head of right fielder Castellanos to bring the tally to 7-3.
The Tigers gave the Royals a little scare in the 9th, with Brandon Maurer struggling again and leaving the game in favor of Mike Minor after a one-out double by Castellanos to put runners on 2nd and 3rd with just one out. Candelario then sent a moonshot into the left field corner that pushed just foul to keep the deficit at four runs.
Candelario would drive in a run on ground out to third to make it a 7-4 game, but Minor would induce a McCann fly out to left to seal the deal.
The win brought the Royals to 78-80 this season and while they are no longer in postseason contention, they will seek to finish their fifth consecutive season at .500 or better over the last four games. To finish above .500, they’ll have to win all four remaining games, while losing one game would give them a .500 season in back-to-back years.
Up Next: Kansas City Royals v. Detroit Tigers, Thursday, September 28, 2017, 7:15 PM CDT, Kauffman Stadium. LHP Danny Duffy (9-9, 3.68 ERA) v. Daniel Norris (4-8, 5.59 ERA)