The floundering KC Royals, owners of the worst record in the major leagues, made a roster change Friday when they sent weak-hitting Nate Eaton back to the minors and called up Samad Taylor, a dazzlingly fast outfielder whose only previous brushes with playing in a big league game came in spring training exhibition contests.
He didn't play Friday night against the Angels, but manager Matt Quatraro selected him to play left field Saturday afternoon. And batting eighth, between Nicky Lopez and Drew Waters, the Royals' newest rookie tried all day to collect his first major league hit.
He grounded out to LA shortstop Andrew Velazquez to end the Kansas City second.
He flied out to Mickey Moniak in right to lead off the fifth.
He walked in the seventh, and again in the eighth.
Then came the home half of the ninth, which the Royals began one run down after tying the game with six unanswered runs over the seventh and eighth frames only to see Aroldis Chapman give the Angels the lead run in the ninth.
Taylor came to the plate with the game suddenly tied again on Maikel Garcia's RBI single that scored Dairon Blanco who, running for Edward Olivares after Olivares' leadoff single, stole second and scampered safely to third on Angel catcher Chad Wallach's throwing error.
Samad Taylor made sure his debut for the KC Royals will be long remembered
His fifth at-bat of a day stretched into the early evening proved to be Taylor's charm. He looped a fly to center too long for Mike Trout to reach—Garcia scored and the Royals, losers of 10 straight coming into this one, had a 10-9 walk-off win:
And for good measure, Bobby Witt Jr. dashed to center and retrieved the game-winning ball—the one also representing Taylor's first big league hit and first RBI—for his new teammate:
So it was that Taylor forged a moment he'll never forget. But for much of the Kauffman Stadium afternoon, it looked like any hit Taylor might get would be just an interesting sidebar to another Kansas City loss.
The KC Royals had to battle back to give Samad Taylor his big moment
Long before Taylor's late heroics, the Royals spent three innings digging themselves a deep hole after tying the game at 2-2 on MJ Mlendez's two-run homer in the second. However, KC starter Mike Mayers handed the Angels a pair of runs on fielders' choices in the fifth, then another two on Brandon Drury's homer in the sixth, before yielding to Jackson Kowar after walking Taylor Ward. The RBI double Kowar promptly served up to Michael Stefanic gave LA a 7-2 lead.
The Angels added another run in the seventh to put the Royals a half-dozen down. But doubles by Waters and Witt in the bottom of the inning cut the deficit to three, and the Royals tied it in the eighth on Nick Pratto's one-run single and Witt's second hit of the day, a single that scored two.
Fortunately, the club battled back again to tie it in the ninth and put the contest in Taylor's hands.
The KC Royals and Los Angeles will play the rubber game of the series Sunday
With the victory, Kansas City evened this weekend series and have a chance to win it Sunday afternoon. Zack Greinke is scheduled to start against the Angels' Tyler Anderson in the 1:10 p.m. CDT contest.