The Royals have been waiting for some late-inning magic, and they finally got some Saturday at Guaranteed Rate Field.
After two devastating walk-off losses, the Royals bounced back for a 9-6 victory over the White Sox. Kansas City erased a two-run deficit with one run in the sixth, five in the seventh and two more in the eighth.
“I’m not sure relief is where I’m going with [my emotion],” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “Whenever you see a team take those losses as hard as our guys did, you never know how they’ll respond. You’re hopeful. But to see them do what they did today despite what happened, that’s special stuff for me.
“We know it can go in a bad direction, but it was really good for us to come back today.”
Reliever Jesse Hahn recorded his first big league save, bailing out the Royals in the bottom of the ninth after the White Sox scored three times. Hahn got two strikeouts on six pitches.
“Another guy that I was trying to stay away from unless it was an emergency,” Matheny said of Hahn, who threw 26 pitches Friday night. “And then the call came down to the bullpen to him in the ninth, ‘This is an emergency. Grab a ball and get ready.’”
After Trevor Rosenthal was traded to the Padres on Saturday, Hahn will become a new candidate for closer duties along with Greg Holland, Josh Staumont and Scott Barlow.
“[Hahn] is always going to be an option for us,” Mathney said.
Reliever Ian Kennedy, who has struggled most of 2020, opened the ninth with a six-run lead in hand, but he immediately got in trouble. He injured his calf muscle as he was fielding a grounder and had to be removed from the game.
Matheny said after the game that Kennedy would be a candidate for the injured list.
Here are three bright spots from Saturday’s win:
Power display: The Royals flexed their muscles with a big five-run seventh inning. Ryan McBroom set a club record with his third pinch-hit homer of 2020. After an RBI single by Ryan O'Hearn, Maikel Franco jacked a three-run homer, giving the Royals a 7-3 lead. One inning before the pivotal rally, O’Hearn went deep to score a run.
McBroom on the art of pinch-hitting: “I don’t know if there is a secret. I haven’t done much of it in my life. It’s almost like you have to be carefree. The situations are different each time. It’s not supposed to be easy. I’m kind of speechless.”
Big pitches: Royals rookie right-hander Brady Singer worked out of a huge jam in the third inning. The White Sox had already scored a run and had the bases loaded with one out and their Nos. 3 and 4 hitters coming up. Singer then struck out Yasmani Grandal on a 3-2 fastball and José Abreu on a 3-2 slider.
“I felt really good with my slider today,” Singer said. “I knew [at] 3-2 I couldn’t walk [Abreu], but that was the pitch I wanted there.”
Singer went five innings and gave up five hits and three runs while striking out four.
Gordon getting locked in: Alex Gordon broke out of an 0-for-13 slump on Friday night with three hits. He was back at it Saturday with three more hits and a walk. And one of the hits was a home run in the second inning on a fastball from Dylan Cease.