KC Royals: The bunt is alive and well in Kansas City
Some say bunting is a lost art, only a faded memory of a different kind of baseball, but don't tell KC Royals catcher Freddy Fermin that.
Just an inning after reliever Aroldis Chapman blew a two-run lead and turned Thursday afternoon's wet game into a tie, and moments after Matt Duffy's single moved Nick Pratto to third with the potential winning run in the bottom of the ninth, Fermin's absolutely perfect bunt squeezed Pratto home to give the Royals a thrilling 4-3 victory over the White Sox.
The bunt, one Chicago seemed never to anticipate, gave Kansas City only its second series win of the season and a 5-5 record on this now-ended homestand. The Royals had won just once at home before it started.
And although KC remains in last place, beating the Sox three games out of four means the Royals are just a game behind fourth-place Chicago, giving them a new chance to crawl out of the American League Central cellar they've been in, with the exception of one day, since April 14.
But back to The Bunt.
Did anyone really expect a bunt from KC Royals catcher Freddy Fermin?
Probably not, especially given the posture of the game when he put it down: with one out in the ninth, manager Matt Quatraro had already used Chapman and resurgent Scott Barlow, arguably his two top relievers (yes, Chapman has struggled lately and Barlow could have conceivably pitched the 10th, but now we'll never know), and the Royals were guaranteed another shot at Sox pitching even if reliever Reynaldo López escaped the first-and-third jam he'd created for himself.
And a bunt didn't seem likely with the hard-throwing López on the mound.
But lay down a bunt Fermin did—on an inside pitch, no less—and it couldn't have been better. It plopped in front of the plate, bounced, and died in the grass. López fumbled it; even if he' hadn't, though, any toss to catcher Seby Zavala would have been too late to nail Pratto barreling down from third.
Fermin's masterful bunt wasn't, of course, the only reason the Royals won this one.
Brady Singer's excellent performance set the tone for the KC Royals
Any anxiety Kansas City fans had coming into the game had to arise from the fact Singer was starting for the Royals. Not the pitcher he was last season, burdened by an ugly 8.82 ERA, and with his last outing, over which he surrendered 13 runs in 6.2 innings, still fresh in fans' minds, Singer stymied Chicago. He left with a 3-1 lead after six solid innings and struck out four while walking only two.
And despite Chapman's disappointing performance—he gave the Sox two runs and three hits in the eighth, the one inning, he pitched—bullpen mates Carlos Hernández and Barlow were excellent. Hernández took over for Singer to begin the seventh and retired the White Sox in order, and Barlow, who got the win, did the same in the ninth.
And at the plate? Michael Massey accounted for the Royals' first run and first lead with a second inning home run, his second of the season after hitting his first in his the club's 9-1 Wednesday night victory. Maikel Garcia doubled home two in the fourth to break a 1-1 tie and gave Kansas City the lead Chapman eventually squandered.
So, where do the 12-27 Royals go from here? On a nine-game road trip, which starts Friday night with the first of three contests with the Brewers in Milwaukee. They'll then play three in San Diego and another three against the White Sox in Chicago.