Royals outlast the Angels for huge win in 13 innings
MAY 25, 2014 12:31a ET
OK, so there probably are no "must-wins" in May.
But the Royals, reeling a bit from three losses in four games, needed a feel-good victory Saturday night in Anaheim.
And they got it, thanks to seven flawless innings of relief from their outstanding bullpen, and with a little help from the Angels' defense.
The Royals won 7-4 in 13 innings, pushing across three runs in the top of the 13th. The rally started with Danny Valencia belting a double, even though he nearly left the game in that at-bat because of an injured wrist. Jarrod Dyson pinch ran for him and scored when the Angels threw away Alcides Escobar's sacrifice bunt. Esky went to third on another sacrifice bunt and scored when Nori Aoki drove a grounder through a pulled-in infield. After an Eric Hosmer single sent Aoki to third, Billy Butler -- who has been seeing the ball well lately -- smacked a sacrifice fly.
Greg Holland closed it out with a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the 13th and now the Royals have a chance to win the series Sunday.
-- Manufacturing a run courtesy of Esky. Escobar did a fantastic job of creating a run all by himself. He led off the fourth with a beautiful bunt single (keep bunting, Esky!). He then stole second and third with one out. Although Aoki struck out, Esky came home on a clutch single by Hosmer. Teams that don't hit for power (e.g.., the Royals) must do these things if they have any chance of winning.
-- Billy Ball looking good. Butler continues to come up with solid plate appearances. He drew a two-out walk in the first, came through with some fine situational hitting in the third when he hit a sac fly with runners on first and second and none out, and blasted a ball to deep right center in the fourth -- he was robbed when Mike Trout jumped high to make the grab at the wall. Butler nearly homered in the 12th when he flew deep to left. Then he drilled a sac fly in the big 13th-inning rally. Butler is still stuck on one homer, but he has hit at least four balls in the past week that he thought were homers.
-- Hoz back in the mix. Hosmer, who had been in a mini-slump lately, broke out with four singles. His first was a pretty hit-and-run single to right in the third. Then he came up with a two-out RBI single in the fourth that was huge at the time, giving the Royals a 3-0 lead.
-- It's the little things, guys. In the Royals' two-run third, Sal Perez smoked a sinking liner to center with two out and Hosmer on first. Both Perez and Hosmer slowed up to a light jog because it appeared Angels center fielder Trout would make the catch. When Trout muffed it and the ball wound up 20 feet behind him, Perez should have been at second and Hosmer perhaps should have scored. Instead, they were at first and third.
Hosmer scored anyway on Lorenzo Cain's single to left-center. But Perez would have scored, too, had he been on second. It doesn't take talent to hustle.
-- Bad situational hitting, part I. Aoki had a chance to drive in a run in the fourth with Escobar on third and one out. With the infield in, though, Aoki waved at a changeup in the dirt and struck out. The Royals likely had the contact play on and with a speedy Escobar at third, any kind of contact that wasn't a popup would have scored him. Hosmer picked Aoki up with a two-out hit right afterward.
-- Conclusive evidence? No way. The Angels sucessfully challenged Alex Gordon's amazing catch at the fence off a deep drive from Albert Pujols. Gordon leaped and reached above the fence but the ball bounced off his glove. It then dropped down to Gordon, who was descending. The ball hit Gordon's head, his shoulder, his head again -- just about every part of his upper body. As Gordon hit the ground, he was still juggling the ball but he finally held on for what appeared to be the catch of the year. The Angels challenged, claiming the ball might have touched the outfield padding.
Replays didn't appear conclusive, which should have meant the call on the field (an out) should have stood. In fact, the ball, in slow motion, seemed to continue to rotate normally as it fell toward Gordon's body; if the ball had hit the wall padding, the rotation and the spin of the seams likely would have changed, and we would have seen that on replay. But the replay officials in New York saw it differently and Pujols was awarded a double. He eventually scored the go-ahead run that inning as the Angels led 4-3. It was a huge call -- and hugely disappointing.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at email@example.com.