KANSAS CITY, Mo. —Five observations from the Royals’ 7-6, 13-inning win Thursday.
HOLD THAT OBIT
After Wednesday’s distressing 6-4 loss to the Mariners, many of us in the media were ready to file the obit on the Royals’ 2013 season, especially after the Ms raced to a 5-0 lead Thursday.
Hey, it was a great run, the team is improved, it was an exciting roller-coaster ride, we’ll have lots of memories, but let’s face it: This team sadly just came up short.
That’s what we were all ready to write.
Well, hold that notion once again.
These 2013 Royals simply have an uncanny knack for teetering on the edge of extinction, then rising up when all hope seems lost.
Thursday was another classic example.
The Royals, not built to erase large deficits, nonetheless came back from that 5-0 hole and charged ahead 6-5. Almost everyone contributed: Billy Butler had five hits, Emilio Bonifacio had four hits, Alex Gordon drilled a two-run homer and Justin Maxwell came through with a sacrifice fly to put the Royals up 6-5 in the seventh inning.
Then the unthinkable happened: After the unhittable Will Smith put the Ms down in order in the eighth, closer Greg Holland proved he was indeed human.
Holland was within a strike of another save when Raul Ibanez belted a 3-2 pitch for the tying homer, ending Holland’s consecutive saves streak at 31, second longest in club history behind Joakim Soria’s 36.
But Mike Moustakas came to the rescue in the 13th with a leadoff homer to end it, and once more prolong the Royals’ hopes.
“It’s just who we are,” third baseman Mike Moustakas said. “We really do fight to the end. There’s no quit.”
And you simply can’t bury them. Not yet.
MEMORIES OF MOTLEY
Royals skipper Ned Yost said he couldn’t remember a time when a player blasted what appeared to be a home run that hooked foul, and then in the same at–bat followed it up with an actual home run. This, of course, is what Moustakas did Thursday. He belted one deep into the right-field corner that hooked foul. A few pitches later, Moustakas ended the game by crushing one into the right-field bullpen.
“That never happens,” Yost said. “Usually, someone hits one deep but foul, and then that’s it. The at-bat is over.”
Well, Royals fans will remember Darryl Motley doing the same thing, though, in the 1985 World Series. Motley blasted one foul that had home run distance, changed bats, and on the next pitch hit a home run.
Tip your hat once more to the Royals’ bullpen, which entered the game as the American League’s best with a 2.52 ERA.
The Royals’ bullpen went seven innings and gave up just one run — the homer to Ibanez.
“Just incredible,” Yost said. “Everyone did such a great job. I can’t even remember all the moves I had to make.”
Yost used seven relievers.
BIG SAL OK
Catcher Sal Perez, who already has suffered one concussion this season, got nailed again with a foul tip and appeared woozy in the top of the fifth. He stayed in the game.
But after getting a hit in the bottom of the inning, he got light-headed while on the bases and was replaced by Brett Hayes.
“I think he’s fine,” Yost said. “His eyes weren’t glazed or anything when he took the foul tip but just got a little dizzy at first base. We didn’t want to take any chances.”
HOZ AT .300
With two more hits, Eric Hosmer now is hitting an even .300 for the season. Now, how many of you actually thought he’d ever get to that point back in April in May, when most fans were calling for him to be sent down?
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at email@example.com.