Thank you, sir! May we have another? Royals top Padres to snap skid
On the same day (OK, next morning in Kansas City) that general manager Dayton Moore voiced his frustrations with the team's inability to hit with runners in scoring position, the Royals finally came through with clutch RBI hits from Alex Gordon and Billy Butler in the 11th inning.
That led to a 3-1 victory over the Padres that snapped the Royals' five-game losing streak.
Eric Hosmer, 0 for 4 with three strikeouts before the 11th, led off the inning with a rocket off the wall in left-center for a double. After Sal Perez popped out, Gordon, who had been 0 for 13 coming into the at bat, broke his bat but rolled a sharp grounder into right field. Hosmer never hesitated around third and raced home before making a perfect head-first slide away from the tag.
Gordon took second on the throw and scored on Butler's pinch-hit double, a smash off the wall in right field.
The Royals had been 0 for 7 with RISP until Gordon's hit.
And Greg Holland, who had a rare blown save the night before, got through the Padres in the bottom of the 11th.
The Royals also won their first game this season when scoring three runs or less after 15 losses.
-- Guthrie saves the bullpen. This was simply a phenomenal outing by Jeremy Guthrie, who went eight innings and gave up just four hits and one run -- another homer from Yasmani Grandal, his second in two days. Guthrie had his best command of the season, just when the Royals, manager Ned Yost and the tired bullpen needed it. Guthrie walked just one and struck out two and kept the Royals close at 1-1. Big, big effort from Guthrie.
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-- Big Sal at the plate, in the field. On the subject of big, how about Sal Perez blasting a home run in the sixth to keep the Royals and their struggling offense alive long enough to make it to extra innings and the big rally? Perez also threw out Will Venable trying to steal after Venable walked with one out in the eighth -- a huge play at the time. And then Venable -- don't ask me what he was doing -- was thrown out again by Perez in the 11th inning.
-- Wade Davis simply lights out. Davis also picked up the rest of his bullpen mates, who likely were exhausted from overwork lately. Davis pitched a scoreless ninth and 10th, striking out four. Like Guthrie, it was without doubt the best command Davis has had this season. He came in firing strikes and fastballs in the mid-90s. In the ninth, he struck out the side -- all looking. Whoa.
-- Still could improve, obviously. Hate to do this, but even though the Royals came up huge in the 11th with clutch hits from Gordon and Butler, the Royals were 0 for 7 with RISP before that. And they were hitting just .241 with RISP coming into the game. Hey, maybe the 11th inning is the start of something better in the RISP department.
-- No replay, really? We can debate all we want about whether it was wise for Alcides Escobar to try to make it home after tagging on a 100-foot foul pop to Padres first baseman Kyle Blanks in the ninth. Esky had legged out an infield hit, stole second and third, and, let's face it, would have been the hero if he had been called safe. He was called out, though replay strongly suggested Esky's foot slid under the tag at the plate. Why no challenge? Yost said on the FOX Sports Kansas City post-game show that from the bench, it looked like Esky was out, and also that his replay people said it was inconclusive. Hmmm.
-- Get the man home. We wouldn't even be talking about Esky's daring dart for home if Lorenzo Cain had come through with a runner on third and one out. Esky's two steals forced the Padres to bring the infield in with one out. But Cain -- like many Royals before him this season -- could not produce a fly ball to the outfield or a hit.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter @jflanagankc or email at email@example.com.