The Kansas City Royals are winning games in a way that shows they’ve matured into a true championship-caliber team. Sunday’s 8-6 victory over the Red Sox is just one of a number of games where the KC Royals have demonstrated they know how to “win ugly”.
Despite a number of mistakes by coaches and players, some tough breaks, and Edinson Volquez’s collapse, the Kansas City Royals still managed to pull off a four-run rally in the 9th inning.
The KC Royals started off the day poorly by giving up two runs to the Red Sox in the first inning. They recovered to take a 4-2 lead in the top of the sixth inning, seemingly cruising their way to their second win in a row over the Red Sox in Boston. Then disaster struck. Edwin Volquez continued to give up hard hit balls, which began to fall in.
Inexplicably, Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost failed to relieve Edinson Volquez until he had surrendered the lead in the seventh inning. Then reliever Franklin Morales allowed another run on an infield single that pretty much amounted to a bunt by Pablo Sandoval, whom the KC Royals argued interfered with the play by running inside the foul line. Ned Yost’s objections were ignored by the umpire crew, and the Kansas City Royals found themselves down 6-4 after seven.
Then we come to the 9th inning.
The KC Royals Omar Infante smacked a ball off the Green Monster that eluded Boston left-fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. Third base coach Mike Jirshele waved him home and Infante got stuck in the mud in front of home plate. What turned out to be an ugly belly flop that stopped short of home—instead of a slide—had become a major mistake. With no outs, and down by two runs, the Kansas City Royals had blown having the leadoff runner at third.
Ned Yost challenged the call, contending that Boston catcher Ryan Hanigan blocked the plate. Replay officials in New York didn’t agree.
A coaching mistake like that would deflate a lot of teams. But, not the KC Royals. Backup catcher Drew Butera and Alcides Escobar followed with consecutive singles, before Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts speared Ben Zobrist‘s line drive over his head to make the second out. Lorenzo Cain singled to load the bases, and Eric Hosmer tied the game at 6-6 with the team’s fourth single in a row.
Then the Kansas City Royals put together two outstanding at bats to earn the win. Kendrys Morales took a six-pitch walk to again load the bases, and Mike Moustakas doubled into the gap after a 10-pitch at bat in which he fought off strike three with five foul balls.
A team less secure in themselves, like—say—the 2014 KC Royals BEFORE the playoffs, would not have been able to handle the ups and downs of such a crazy ninth. Instead, this year’s Kansas City Royals didn’t let blown leads and their own mistakes distract them from the next play.
Sunday is not the only time the KC Royals have managed to prevail despite making numerous gaffes before their comeback. One such win came in the last game before in the All-Star break, in which the Royals managed to down the Blue Jays 11-10 after blowing a 7-0 lead to trail 8-7 in the sixth. Despite blowing yet ANOTHER lead when the Jays tied the game at 10-all in the top of the eighth, Kansas City pushed across one final run to pull out the win.
That Toronto game before the break resembled the last day of school for both teams, with three errors by the Blue Jays and four by the Royals. Yet, it was the Kansas City Royals that focused on the job at hand to win in the end.
These kind of wins reflect a mental toughness and resilience that served them well in the playoffs in 2014, and will again in 2015.