Aug 28, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas (8) works out prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Royals (80-49) continued to build on an impressive season by cruising to victory — their seventh win in the last eight played — Saturday night in St. Petersburg, FL.
Kris Medlen (3-0 / 3.51 ERA) made his second start of the season for the Royals, and looked pretty good going 5.1 innings, allowing three runs on four hits and two walks while fanning five. So far he’s pitched as well as could possibly be hoped for coming off his second Tommy John surgery, a comeback that began out of the bullpen in July after a season and a half absence from the game.
Medlen is positioning himself as a serious contender for the post-season rotation. He works quickly, doesn’t appear to get rattled, and his stuff is sharp. Once his command comes all the way back, he could be really good again. It’s early, but so far he looks like another brilliant sign by Dayton Moore.
His Rays counterpart, former Royal Jake Odorizzi (6-7 / 3.18 ERA), took the loss after being roughed up for four runs on seven hits and two walks in just 4.2 innings of work.
After three scoreless innings, KC struck first with two runs in the top of the fourth. Eric Hosmer doubled home Lorenzo Cain who’d reached on a walk. Then Mike Moustakas, who went 3-4 with two doubles and three RBI on the night, doubled Hosmer home for a 2-0 lead.
The Rays (63-66) came right back in their half of the fourth to take a 3-2 lead with a three run outburst that included a two run homer by Kevin Kiermaier off Medlen.
But the Royals, as they so often do, came right back themselves in the fifth to re-take the lead 4-3 when Kendrys Morales and Moose drove in the tying and go-ahead runs. They later tacked on insurance runs with an RBI single by Cain (who also walked twice and scored twice) in the eighth, and Moose’s third RBI in the ninth.
The Royals defense (especially Moose) came through big in the clutch, while TB made three errors on the night. That, as much as anything else, was the difference in this game.
Despite having the largest division lead in MLB by far, the Royals never stop playing hard. They have a dangerous line-up of confident, aggressive hitters. They play great defense. They can run. Great bullpen. Solid rotation. Good role players.
Summer 2015 has been one for the ages. Beyond sheer talent, this team has character, characters, and an exciting style of play. This is the feeling Royals fans have dreamed of for decades. It’s finally here, and it’s fantastic.