Royals stun streaking, big-play Jays
Infante hits go-ahead two-run single in 10th after two-out rally in 9th
TORONTO -- Maybe the switch in hitting coaches pulled a switch that ignited the Royals' bats. Whatever the reason, they suddenly caught fire.
Not only that, the Royals rallied to snatch a 10-inning, 8-6 victory and snap the Toronto Blue Jays' nine-game winning streak on Thursday night at Rogers Centre. In the process, the Royals ended their own four-game swoon.
Certainly the Royals showed renewed batting spark in the wake of the club's shakeup in which Dale Sveum replaced Pedro Grifol as the hitting coach.
"They sure looked a lot better tonight," manager Ned Yost said. "That's kind of what you hope for, you get a different voice and it kind of snaps everybody back to reality a little bit."
The Royals had 14 hits and the eight runs were the most in their last nine games.
"It definitely woke up the offense," Eric Hosmer said.
Alcides Escobar opened the Royals' 10th with a single and Pedro Ciriaco, turning to bunt, was hit in the helmet by Todd Redmond's pitch. Ciriaco went down to the ground but stayed in the game and took first base. Nori Aoki's sacrifice bunt advanced the runners into scoring position.
Omar Infante drilled a single just over third baseman Brett Lawrie's glove and both runners scored.
All that came after the Royals twice were just one strike from another loss.
Their ninth inning against Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen began with two outs. The second came when, of all things, Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista threw out Billy Butler -- at first base.
"He hit it to the exact, perfect spot for Bautista to throw him out," Yost said. "A one-hop scorched missile right at him. And Billy was running hard right out of the box, Billy knew of the possibility of that happening."
But there was life left in the Royals.
On a 3-2 pitch, Alex Gordon looped a single to short left field and Jarrod Dyson ran for him. The speedster stole second but all looked lost as Salvador Perez, on a 1-2 pitch, grounded to shortstop Jose Reyes.
"I think he was surprised that I was running so hard and at the last second, he just tried to be quick," Perez said.
Reyes' throw to first base was low, couldn't be handled by Edwin Encarnacion and Dyson zipped home for a tie.
"I saw the ball kick out and I just turned on the boosters," Dyson said.
The Blue Jays, who came into this game leading the Major Leagues with 76 home runs, showed off their muscle with three two-run homers against Royals starter James Shields in his seven innings.
"You put up that many runs on Shields, the amount we did, you feel pretty good because he's one of the best in the business," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Bautista slammed a two-run shot to left field after Melky Cabrera's single in the first inning. It was Bautista's 13th this season. Encarnacion added a two-run blast of his own, also to left, after Adam Lind's single in the fourth inning. And that wasn't all.
In the sixth, with Lind again on with a single, Encarnacion again reached the left-field seats. That gave him 18 homers, including a club-record 16 alone in May, and also gave the Blue Jays a 6-5 lead.
"Shields made three mistakes and all three of them cost us -- six runs," Yost said. "Encarnacion is probably the hottest hitter on the planet right now."
Meanwhile, the Royals were stirring up things themselves.
"A lot of hits and a lot of runs being scored. That was a big break for us," Hosmer said. "It's been a while since we've been on that end of a game like that."
Perez banged a solo home run to left in the second inning against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, the 22nd home run of the year for the Royals. They're last in the Majors' home-run derby.
Doubles by Hosmer and Gordon produced another run in the fourth. And they surged ahead in the fifth with a three-run outburst that began with Escobar's single and Ciriaco's long RBI double.
Aoki, reprising his success of last week, dropped another two-strike bunt for a single. Infante was hitless in his first two at-bats against Dickey after being 16-for-31 (.516) against him previously in his career. But this time, Infante singled home a run. After an out, Butler singled for another run and a short-lived 5-4 lead.
In the end, the Royals' top two bullpen arms sewed things up.
"I think our bullpen did a phenomenal job. Wade Davis, to me he's the player of the game, coming into the game and shutting down that lineup for two straight innings was huge," Shields said.
Davis relieved Shields and was perfect through the eighth and ninth innings. Closer Greg Holland pitched past an infield single in the 10th to record his 15th save.
Old stuff for those two guys. But there was some new stuff for the guys swinging the lumber.
"I was really pleased with the way we swung the bats tonight," Yost said. "We were driving balls. Salvy hit a homer. Ciriaco missed a two-run homer by about a foot. We just had some great at-bats."