Heroes are abundant in Royals’ 4-3 win
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mr. Clutch, Sal Perez, picked up right where he left off last year, coming through when the Royals needed him.
Perez’s RBI double with two out in the bottom of the eighth put the Royals ahead for good at 4-3 as the Royals evened their mark at 2-2.
And no, we have no idea why the White Sox pitched to Perez with first base open and the hitless Mike Moustakas on deck.
Billy Ball: Give some credit to Royals designated hitter Billy Butler, who has been taking some grief from the overreacting Twitter crowd. Butler delivered an RBI single in the fourth to give the Royals a 2-0 lead, then made it 3-1 Royals with a rocket to center field that was caught, but still scored Norichika Aoki who tagged from third. Butler also drew a walk in the decisive eighth.
Catch of the year: Right fielder Norichika Aoki has been igniting the offense from the top spot in the order the past two days, but his real contribution Saturday was a sensational catch in the eighth inning. With the score tied 3-3 and runners on first and second, Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox scorched a liner headed over Aoki’s head — Aoki somehow reached up at the last second and snared it to save two runs.
Bruce Chen: What can you say about the crafty veteran? Chen was amazing, tossing 6 1/3 innings while giving up six hits and one run, which was unearned. He walked none and struck out seven. "It’s amazing at his age (36) he can still be this productive," Ned Yost told us afterward.
Davis’ off-day: Wade Davis, so sharp in Friday’s home opener, was anything but on Saturday as he gave up Chen’s 3-1 lead. Davis got ahead 0-2 to the first two hitters but gave up a single and then hit a batter. Then he walked the bases loaded before giving up an RBI single and a sac fly. He did work back with a strikeout and then benefitted by Aoki’s great play in right.
Baserunning boo-boo: If the Royals had lost by a run, we might be dissecting Eric Hosmer’s baserunning gaffe in the fourth inning. Hosmer was on second when Alex Gordon blooped a single to right. But Hoz reached third, rounded third and seemed to start heading toward home even though the ball was back in the infield. Hoz then got caught in a rundown and was tagged out. Later, he explained to us that he thought third base coach Dale Sveum was pointing him home — actually Sveum was pointing Hoz back to the bag with his left arm and pointing toward home with his right arm to show Hoz that the ball was back in. "Just a miscommunication early in the season," Hoz said. "We’ll get that right."
Cain’s pitch selection: Also in that fourth inning, Lorenzo Cain came up with the bases loaded and one out. White Sox starter John Danks had just walked back-to-back Royals to force in a run. But Cain swung at two pitches out of the zone and struck out.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter @jflanagankc or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.