It looked bleak for a while. Yuniesky Betancourt gave up an out and threw the ball into right field. Kyle Davies gave up two home runs to Casey Kotchman who entered the game with four all year. The Royals had scored only one run through the first six innings.
Then the Royals worked some late-inning magic and turned it around.
Betancourt made up for his mistake by doubling in the seventh inning, and advanced to third on a fly ball. Then he scored on a wild pitch with two outs to make the score 3-2.
But the eighth inning was when the Royals really picked it up. David DeJesus and Billy Butler worked back to back walks against Brandon League, who did not have his best series against the Royals, having blown a save on Monday. Then Alberto Callaspo stepped up and looked to be attempting to bunt. Thankfully, he got to 3-2 after a failed attempt and drove a pitch deep to right for a three run homer and a 5-3 lead.
Mitch Maier put the punctuation mark on the inning, crushing a pitch towards the second deck in right field two batters later. This was after a game full of defensive plays that displayed the range that one would hope would maintain his spot in center field, including a gorgeous diving catch of a line drive by Ichiro.
After Kyle Farnsworth struck out the side in the bottom half of the inning (he leads the team in both ERA and WHIP, by the way. I was surprised too…), Billy Butler added another home run, just sneaking it over the wall in right field. Farnsworth stayed on the mound in the ninth with the score 7-3 but after a walk and a single, he gave way to Joakim Soria who retired all three batters he faced, including a strikeout of Russell Branyan on a tasty curveball.
The sweep is the Royals first since September of last year. They’ve won five of their last six and are 10-3 in their last two weeks of play.
Reality check: I would love to see the Royals make a move towards the division title. I would, but it’s not realistic. That being said, Ned Yost does have this team playing some better baseball than we’ve seen in a while and warts aside (Kendall batting 2nd for instance), he’s pretty much wrapped up his employment situation for 2011.
The Royals are 27-23 under Yost and 39-46 overall. They’re projected at that winning percentage to finish 74-88 which isn’t half bad considering they were 12-23 on Trey Hillman’s last day. If they continued at the .540 winning percentage that Yost has them at during his tenure, they’d go 41-36 over the last 77 games to finish at 80-82. Maybe the bottom will drop out, maybe not. It’s good to see the team playing well, winning games and building confidence.