Rain stops falling and Royals’ bats come alive in comeback win over the Jays
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Who are these guys anyway?
The Royals, offensively challenged for most of the season, erupted again, this time for 10 runs and 11 hits in a come-from-behind 10-7 win over the Toronto Blue Jays at rainy, cold Kauffman Stadium.
Make that 19 runs in two games for the Royals — and their second straight game in which they have homered.
"I’ve told you guys that we’re going to come around offensively," first baseman Eric Hosmer said.
Sal Perez delivered the key blows — his two-run shot into the Royals’ bullpen brought the Royals within 5-4 in the seventh. And then Perez drilled a two-run double down the left-field line in a six-run eighth that buried the Jays.
The Royals had been 0-9 this season when trailing after seven innings. And, of course, the Royals kept their magic-number stat perfect — they are now 13-0 when scoring four or more runs.
Also on Monday, the Royals said they would skip left-hander Bruce Chen’s start on Wednesday and replace him with Yordano Ventura. Chen left the road trip on Sunday for an MRI to find the source of his leg discomfort. It was determined he has a bulging disc in his lower back and he received an epidural shot. Chen tentatively is scheduled to pitch again Saturday.
— Perez homer ignites the offense. Through six innings, the Royals had only two hits. But then after Alex Gordon’s leadoff double in the seventh, Perez bombed one into the bullpen. "It was tough because it was cold and rainy and hard to see," Perez said. "Then the rain stopped and we started hitting." The Perez homer, with the Royals trailing 5-2, was the key blow. "We knew we were coming back after Sal hit that homer," Jarrod Dyson said. Perez also had a two-run double in the eighth that put the Royals up 6-5. "Sliders and split-fingers," Perez said of the at-bat against right-hander Sergio Santos. "And then he made a mistake with a fastball." Perez, after a two-week slump, now has seven hits in his last three games. "Working, working, working," Perez explained. "I feel better now at the plate."
— Hoz taking the extra base. It doesn’t look like a big play now that the Royals won by a 10-7 margin, but Hosmer made a huge play in the eighth when the Royals were down by a run. After singling to lead off, Hosmer took third on Billy Butler’s single to left. Hosmer seemed to deke former Royal Melky Cabrera in left, and then raced ahead of the throw to third. "I really wasn’t trying to (deke) him," Hosmer said. "I just wanted to get a good turn and then I saw him kind of stay back on the ball, and I took off." That set the Royals up with first and third and none out. "That was huge at the time," manager Ned Yost said. "That set up the inning for us."
— Successful challenge. The Royals benefited from two challenges. The first came early: with the Royals already down 1-0, Chris Getz, a former Royal, appeared to beat out an infield chopper with two outs and runners at the corners. He was called safe on the field. Yost challenged and won, preventing a run. "That’s a big run then, keeping it 1-0 instead of 2-0," Yost said. "I like having that recourse (a challenge) available." In the ninth, Dioner Navarro lifted a fly down to the right-field foul pole that just hooked foul. On the field, it was ruled foul. The replay indicated the call on the field would stand, which is not a confirmation — it was that iffy and that hard to tell which side of the foul pole the ball crossed, even on replay.
— Aoki’s baserunning. Norichika Aoki had somewhat of a rough day in the field and on the bases. He led off the third inning with a double but then tried to advance to third when the next hitter, Omar Infante, lined out to right. But Aoki, who is not exactly a burner, was easily gunned down by Jose Bautista for a double play. There is aggressive baserunning and then there is foolish baserunning — this one was clearly the latter.
— The adventures of Aoki, part II. Aoki also has had a tough time in right field lately. He has only been charged with one error this season, though he has had several misplays. He seemed to misjudge Jose Reyes’ deep fly in the fifth — that was scored a double. Then Cabrera’s deep fly that followed seemed to just drift beyond Aoki for a triple. "The wind was pretty tough out there for him in right," Dyson said. "But I thought he did a good job of bouncing back after that inning."
— Vargas finally cools. Jason Vargas, so effective as a starter so far, finally had somewhat of a stumble. His line — 10 hits, five runs in 6 1/3 innings — actually looked worse than he really pitched. "He was fine," Perez said. "It was not a good night to pitch. It was tough, especially in the rain."
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.