For a while, it appeared as though tonight’s game would be another example of the Royals squandering their chances in a difficult loss. Instead, Salvador Perez hit a three run home run in the top of the ninth to bring the Royals back to a 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
The game started well for the Royals. Although Rays starter Alex Cobb struck out the first two batters he faced, Eric Hosmer followed with a line drive home run to right to give the Royals a quick 1-0 lead. The Royals continued to have their chances, putting runners on base through each of the first three innings, but Cobb was able to work out of trouble each time.
With Yordano Ventura on the mound, however, it seemed as though that one run may be enough. While he struggled with his control at times over the first three frames, Ventura was still inducing weak contact, allowing him to escape unscathed as well.
Kansas City had another prime opportunity to add to the lead in the top of the fourth, loading the bases with no outs. Raul Ibanez forced in a run with a ground out to first, giving the Royals a 2-0 lead. However, that was all they would get, as Danny Valencia lined out to third and Alcides Escobar struck out to end the threat.
The Rays made that inability to get any more runs on the board come back to haunt the Royals in the bottom half of the inning. With two outs and runners on first and second, Ventura walked Jose Molina on a boardline 3-2 pitch to load the bases. Up came Kevin Kiermaier, and with a 1-2 count, Ventura made a mistake. His changeup floated in belt high right down the middle of the plate, and Kiermaier hammered it to right for a grand slam, giving Tampa Bay a 4-2 lead.
The Royals kept threatening, but were unable to get any closer. Twice, they had two runners on and even loaded the bases in the top of the seventh, but were unable to push across any runs to cut the deficit. It seemed as though the game was just going to be another wasted opportunity and a tough loss.
Then came the top of the ninth. After Aaron Crow skated through a rough bottom of the eighth, Jarrod Dyson led off the inning with a base hit, stealing second on the next pitch. After an out, Dyson stole third without a throw. Hosmer walked, bringing up Salvador Perez with runners on the corners. In came Kirby Yates to try to close out the game for Tampa Bay, but Perez had other plans, lifting Yates’ 0-1 offering over the wall in left to put the Royals in front 5-4.
Greg Holland made that score hold up, striking out two of the three batters he faced to preserve the victory. Crow got the win, pitching a scoreless inning despite giving up a hit and walking two batters. Perez was 2-5, scoring two runs and hitting the game winning three run home run.
Omar Infante was 3-4 with a walk in the victory.