No doubt about it: Royals remain red-hot
Behind six-run sixth inning, Kansas City now 17-4 since All-Star break
KANSAS CITY -- Any doubters still left out there?
Even after the Royals surged from behind to knock off the mighty Red Sox for the second straight time, 9-6, on Friday night? Even after they've gone 17-4 since the All-Star break? Even after they've climbed seven games above .500 after once being nine under?
"I'm sure there is, there always is," manager Ned Yost said. "But I'll tell you one thing: It was a party atmosphere in the stands tonight. We enjoyed it, our fans enjoyed it and we're playing good baseball right now."
No doubt about that. After tumbling behind, 6-3, in the fourth inning, the Royals roared back with a determinedly fierce comeback of the kind seldom seen by Kansas City fans in recent years. Or maybe even decades.
They pounded the Red Sox for six runs in the sixth inning.
"That's what good teams do," said first baseman Eric Hosmer, who had a key hit in that inning. "They come from behind -- especially late in the game when you have to bear down."
Red Sox starter Jake Peavy was ousted in the sixth inning when the Royals sent 11 batters to the plate, ripped off six hits to go with two walks and scored six times to surge ahead.
Singles by Justin Maxwell, Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar produced one run and Peavy was replaced by left-hander Drake Britton. A walk and an out preceded David Lough's sizzling line drive that was caught for a sacrifice fly. Hosmer kept the inning alive by stroking a two-run single into the shortstop hole and the Royals were up by 7-6.
"That's why they call us the 'Comeback Kids,'" left fielder Alex Gordon said.
Right-hander Pedro Beato succeeded Britton and promptly gave up an RBI double to Billy Butler. After a walk to Gordon, Maxwell drilled his second single of the inning to score the sixth run of the frame. Moustakas fouled out, but the Royals had themselves quite a party.
So did the 29,485 fans, who thronged to Kauffman Stadium and were treated to fireworks on the field as well after the game.
Maxwell and Gordon each hit a solo home run and David Ortiz did likewise for the Red Sox as the teams sparred to a 3-3 tie in the first three innings. But Ervin Santana, the Royals' starter, had a rare bad night, and it culminated in his departure during the fourth inning.
After two outs, the Red Sox loaded the bases and Mike Napoli cleared them with a double to deep center field for a 6-3 score. That was the end of Santana's shortest outing of the year.
No matter. He would get bailed out soon enough.
"The offense did a great job finally picking up Magic," Hosmer said about Santana. "All the times he's picked us up throughout the whole entire year, for us to finally come and pick him up was big."
And it helps, too, when you have the top-ranked bullpen in the American League. Left-hander Francisley Bueno, who was called up Thursday, relieved Santana and went 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Kelvin Herrera added a scoreless seventh before Tim Collins made it very interesting in the eighth, beginning the inning with two walks.
"That's not the way I would draw it up," Yost said. "Walk the first two guys to get to [Dustin] Pedroia and Ortiz, but he did a great job of getting those two guys out."
With some help from Moustakas, who fielded Pedroia's grounder, stepped on third and fired to second baseman Miguel Tejada for a double play.
"I played it out in my mind before," Moustakas said. "I knew how we were going to pitch him and there was a great chance I was getting the ball. If I was going to my left, I was going straight to second and turn a double play that way, but that was hit right at me, so I had enough time to step on third and throw it to Miggy over at second."
Then Ortiz popped out to Moustakas and the crisis was over. Closer Greg Holland pitched a perfect ninth for his 31st save and 24th in succession.
"Best feeling ever," said the rescued Santana. "Every time we get the win, it doesn't matter how, it's huge for us."
And this time the Royals got a bonus -- the two teams ahead of them in the AL Central lost. First-place Detroit had its 12-game winning streak snapped and the Royals are now 7 1/2 games behind the Tigers but just a half-game from catching the second-place Cleveland Indians. They're 4 1/2 out in the Wild Card race.
Any doubters still around? Certainly not in the basement of Kauffman Stadium.
"We're worried about what's going on in here, and as long as everyone in this clubhouse believes that we can do it and believes in the guy next to him, then that's all that matters to us," Hosmer said.
"Everyone in here believes that we can do it and it's been shown by the way we've been playing."
This stirring victory was one for the book. It was the Royals' 35th comeback win of the year and one of the most memorable.
"We have a lot of heart and we go out every day and try to win a ballgame no matter how many outs are left," Moustakas said.
No doubt about that.