On a night that most people were watching a wild football game out in Los Angeles, the Royals had a little dose of excitement to provide themselves.
Adalberto Mondesi provided a major spark and gave Salvador Perez the chance to walk things off in a 2-1 win over the Indians Thursday night.
But it took over three hours and a few extra innings to get there.
The Indians jumped ahead early thanks to some self-inflicted errors by Kansas City. Francisco Lindor led off the 1st with an innocent single, but moved to second on a Ryan O’Hearn error and to third on a balk by Royals starter Glenn Sparkman. He scored on a Jose Ramirez sac fly to go up 1-0.
Sparkman was back in trouble in the 2nd, but stranded a runner at third to get out unscathed and settled down rather nicely afterwerd. After giving up four hits in the first two frames, Sparkman allowed just one baserunner reach over the next three innings.
He also got a boost from Mondesi in the third, when the red-hot shortstop hit his 13th homer of the season in the 3rd to make it a 1-1 game.
The homer was Mondesi’s 7th of September. In his eight full seasons with the Royals, Alcides Escobar finished with at least seven home runs just one time.
Let me rephrase that, for those of you who aren’t catching my drift.
Alcides Escobar’s career-high In home runs for an entire season is seven.
Back to the game. Okay wait, no. We can’t just bypass this. This wasn’t a high scoring game and there isn’t a lot to recap, so let’s chat about this for a second.
Mondesi has 13 home runs in 277 plate appearances this year. That is roughly 32% of Escobar’s career 41 home runs, which has taken him 5,693 plate appearances to compile. At this current pace, it would take Mondesi just 588 more plate appearances to reach 41 homers and that’s not including the three homers he hit before this season.
That is wild. I don’t think anybody would argue against Mondesi being a better power threat right now than Escobar has ever dreamed of being, but he just squared up Escobar’s best home run season in 23 games. It is also worth noting that Mondesi’s 12 stolen bases in September matches Escobar’s combined total from 2017 and 2018. Escobar’s speed has obviously regressed, but still. I can’t decide if I'm excited or depressed.
Outside of Mondesi reaching that completely arbitrary landmark statistic, the Royals offense didn’t have much juice tonight.
Indians starter Josh Tomlin mostly cruised through his 4.2 innings, with the exception of his hiccup to Mondesi and only exited the game because he was facing Mondesi with the go-ahead runner on second. At that point, Terry Francona does what he likes to do in those situations and brought in Andrew Miller. While the move worked in Tito’s favor, Mondesi actually hit a sharp line drive off of Miller, who was only saved by a tremendous catch in centerfield by Greg Allen.
While the Royals struggled to get anything going off of Miller and Dan Otero, the Indians were struggling just as mightily.
Sparkman gave the Royals 5.0 innings of one-run ball and was relieved by Ben Lively, Kevin McCarthy, and Wily Peralta, who gave Ned Yost four clean innings of relief.
While both teams threatened had chances in the 7th and 8th, neither team was able to push anything across, sending the game into extras.
And then, for the 10th, out marched Jason Hammel.
The Indians got a one-out single from Allen before Jose Ramirez walked on four pitches. Fortunately for the Royals, Josh Donaldson had been ran for by Rajai Davis in the 8th and Hammel was able to get Davis to fly out for a huge second out of the inning.
And as the Indians learned the hard way, you can’t just give away at-bats against a guy like Jason Hammel. After a double-steal put runners on 2nd and 3rd, Hammel got Brandon Barnes — who was also in the batters box because he had been called upon as a runner — to strike out to end the inning.
In total, the Royals bullpen clawed through 5.0 scoreless innings and it proved to be just enough.
With two outs in the 10th, Mondesi drew his 9th walk of the season. He proceeded to steal two bases, the second on Alex Gordon’s walk, before Salvador Perez decided it was time to go home. Sal lined a single into left field to give the Royals a 2-1 walk-off win.
With the win, the Royals have mathematically eliminated the possibility of tying the franchise-record of 106 losses set back in 2005. The win also brings them to 14-11 in September, needing just one win this weekend to end the season with a winning month.
The Royals are fun again.
Up Next: Kansas City Royals v. Cleveland Indians, Kauffman Stadium, 7:15 PM CDT. RHP Ian Kennedy (3-8, 4.50 ERA) v. Mike Clevinger (12-8, 3.07 ERA)