Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
The Kansas City Royals (86-62) took on the Detroit Tigers (69-78) in Motown Saturday night, in what proved to be a very entertaining see-saw affair. The lead would change hands repeatedly throughout the contest, and a dramatic game winning bottom of the ninth inning run scored on a sac fly by the Tigers would be overturned on appeal, when replay revealed KC catcher Salvador Perez‘s tag ever so slightly grazed the toe of Tigers base-runner Ian Kinsler as he slid into home plate.
But it was Kinsler who had the last laugh when he finally ended the game on a walk-off home run off Royals rookie Miguel Almonte in the eleventh inning to the delight of Tigers fans everywhere.
Edinson Volquez started on the mound for KC and struggled, battling with men on base all night long. He gave up three runs in five innings on seven hits and four walks. But he hung in there well enough to give his team a chance, as he almost always does.
Kendrys Morales started the scoring with a solo homer in the second inning to give the Royals the early lead. But the Tigers would answer quickly with a two-run single by the great Miguel Cabrera in the third.
Back came KC when Mike Moustakas tied the game at 2-2 with another solo shot in the fifth, answered by Detroit yet again with a an RBI single by in the bottom of the frame to re-take the lead 3-2.
The Royals broke ahead again 4-3 in the seventh when Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque would experience a minor meltdown after entering with two outs. A wild pitch allowed Eric Hosmer to score from third to tie. Then a balk let Jarrod Dyson get in position to score the lead run when Christian Colon singled to right.
The Tigers scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to re-take the lead. Then the Royals scored in the eighth to tie. Then came the drama in the ninth on the over-turned call, enroute to Kinsler’s game-ender. Like I said – very entertaining.
With two weeks to go, the Royals lead their division by 11 games. Yet there is angst in the Royals fanland, as they’ve watched their hometown heroes go 6-12 so far in September. The bullpen isn’t air-tight any more. We’ve lost five straight one-run contests (a category we once dominated). The offense comes and goes. And our new ace is hardly a lock.
All are legitimate reasons for concern.
But I wouldn’t sweat it too much. The story of the Royals 2015 season will unfold in its own time, and it won’t be in September. Today’s struggles will be largely irrelevant come playoff time. This team has ample opportunity to pick it up again and be ready to step on the gas when the bell rings on a brand new clean slate in post-season round one.
One thing I know: This squad knows how to win playoff baseball games. Their talent stacks up well against the best. They’re mentally prepared for that intense atmosphere and ferocity of play. I’m confident they’ll accord themselves well. They don’t hang their heads and they don’t quit. As a Royals fan that’s all I ask for in the end.