Royals make efficient use of early innings in rain-shortened game
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Just as John Lackey and the Cardinals assumed their posts for the bottom of the sixth inning, Kansas City's gloomy skies dumped heavy rain on Kauffman Stadium at 7:56 p.m.
The deluge delayed and then stopped Saturday's game, forcing the contest's end after 5 1/2 innings and handing the Royals a 3-2 win. Because the teams completed the required 4 1/2 innings (with the home team leading), the game was considered official and Kansas City improved baseball's best record to 28-14. The game was officially called at 9:06 p.m.
Royals manager Ned Yost said the team had looked over various weather reports for Saturday night, some saying the storm would come at 8 p.m., others forecasting the rain for 9 p.m.
"You know that the odds of getting through nine may happen if it's the 9 o'clock one but may not happen if it's the 8 o'clock one," Yost said. "When we scored the third run, you feel good and all of a sudden it's bases loaded with one out with one of their better hitters at the plate."
In the fifth inning, with rain on the horizon and the game not yet official, starter Edinson Volquez ran into trouble. After a leadoff lineout by Mark Reynolds, the Cardinals knocked three straight hits, Carpenter's base hit to center scoring Peter Bourjos and chopping the Kansas City lead in half.
St. Louis remained a threat when Volquez plunked Matt Holliday to load the bases with just one out. But Jhonny Peralta grounded into an inning-ending double play, swiftly and athletically turned by shortstop Alcides Escobar, crushing the Cardinals' chance and entering the game in the books.
"That was the whole game," Volquez said.
Volquez threw six innings of two-run ball, giving up four hits but walking another three Cardinals. He also hit a batter in a complete-game effort.
Alex Gordon blasted a two-run home run in the second inning, transforming a one-run deficit into a one-run advantage. Gordon smoked a 90-mph fastball from Lackey beyond the right-field wall, marking the Royals' third home run in 11 innings against St. Louis pitching, and giving Kansas City a crucial edge on a rain-soaked evening.
"It was definitely in our minds," Gordon said of the oncoming weather. "It was good to get an early lead and keep it like that."
The Royals added a run in the fourth inning on Salvador Perez's RBI single to left that missed third baseman Matt Carpenter's glove and plated Eric Hosmer.
Three innings earlier, the Cardinals squandered a chance to break the game open. They loaded the bases with no outs, thanks to a Peralta double and two Volquez walks. Yadier Molina stepped in, his team scoreless in its last 23 innings and the opponent's starters unblemished in their previous 27 frames.
Molina slapped a grounder to third, where it hopped up to hit Mike Moustakas in the neck area. Moustakas gathered the ball and fired to first to record the out, and the Cardinals had a 1-0 lead. Gordon erased it two hitters into the bottom half of the inning.