Royals score 13 unanswered to spoil Phils' opener
PHILADELPHIA -- The in-game chess match between Kansas City manager Ned Yost and Philadelphia's Charlie Manuel on Friday didn't have a glitzy move. In fact, the move that ended up changing the game proved to be as close to a no-brainer as the game has in this day and age.
"The decision was the at-bat before [Alex Gordon]," Yost said. "Going with Billy Butler was a tough decision because you know they had a lefty [in the bullpen]. The odds are, they will probably walk Billy. If you put a lesser hitter up, do the face him or not face him, so you force them to make a choice there."
The Phillies walked Butler to load the bases for Gordon, and the left-fielder made them pay.
Gordon's three-run triple in the sixth gave the Royals the lead for good in a 13-4 win over the Phillies in the first game of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park. First baseman Eric Hosmer went 4-for-5 with three RBIs to power an offense that knocked out 19 hits to spoil Philly's home opener.
"I think the offense really fed off [Gordon's triple]," said Hosmer, who had just one hit in the opening three-game series in Chicago against the White Sox. "They walked Billy to get to him, and he made them pay. That's why he leads this offense. It really took a load off our shoulders and it freed everybody up.
"I think a day like this really relaxes everybody. I think a team feeds off when you get a big hit, and we had a lot of those today."
Down 4-2 in the fifth, the Royals had already started to wear down Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick before sending him packing in the sixth.
Lorenzo Cain beat out a fielder's choice as Mike Moustakas, who had singled to open the inning, was forced out at second. The hustle proved important, since after Jeff Francoeur flied out, Chris Getz doubled into right for his second in as many innings. Kendrick intentionally walked pinch-hitter Butler to load the bases, and Manuel brought in Jeremy Horst to face Gordon. Gordon, who had singled an inning earlier and scored the Royals second run of the afternoon, tripled into right-center to clear the bases and hand the Royals and reliever Bruce Chen a 5-4 lead.
"We never lost confidence in our offense," Gordon said. "We came in confident, and today was one of the best turnarounds I've been a part of. They came out on their Opening Day excited and ready to go, and then we turned them 180 [degrees].
"[Butler] was a good decoy. I just tried not to get too big with the bases loaded and stick with my same approach. I was able to find a gap, and I obviously thought Billy was going to score because if I hadn't I would never have made it to third, because it was a close play."
Making his first start for the Royals, Wade Davis struggled from the outset, allowing runs in each of the first three innings as the Royals spotted the Phillies a 4-0 lead.
In the top half of the fifth inning, the Royals finally wore down Kendrick and loaded the bases with one out. Kendrick had only one clean inning over the first four but had spread out three singles as the Royals failed to get a runner in scoring position.
With one out, Getz singled into right field and Miguel Tejada stepped in as a pinch-hitter for Davis. Tejada chopped a ball to the left side of the infield and reached on a single, as Jimmy Rollins' throw was late to second for a force on Getz. Gordon followed with a single to right to load the bases. Alcides Escobar hit a sharp ground ball to first that Ryan Howard came home on to get a forceout and keep the bases loaded with two outs.
Before the game, Yost decided to go with Hosmer at first, with Francoeur in right and Butler on the bench. The move paid off, as Hosmer singled into right to score both Tejada and Gordon and pull the Royals within 4-2.
"We've been struggling offensively," Yost said. "We were really on a tear all spring long, we swung the bats really, really well. You knew it was a matter of time before we broke out and did some damage with our bats. Luckily for us, it was today."