World Series 2023: Former KC Royals infielder makes Game 2 mark

Emmanuel Rivera contributed to Arizona's lopsided Saturday win.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The KC Royals are watching the World Series from home, one of the painful consequences of losing 106 games and finishing last in their division.

But Emmanuel Rivera, a former Royal who played for Kansas City as recently as last season, isn't such an observer from afar. Instead, he's playing in the Fall Classic, and has appeared in the first two games his Diamondbacks and American League champion Texas have played.

And he's contributed. Not in a game-changing way, but in a fashion he won't forget.

After playing an inning in the field in Arizona's Game 1 loss to the Rangers Friday, Rivera came late to Saturday night's Game Two, a contest Arizona won 9-1 to even the Series at a game apiece. Pinch-hitting in the eighth inning, he drew a walk from Texas' Martín Pérez, then scored the Diamondbacks' sixth run when Ketel Marte nicked Pérez for a two-run single.

But Rivera's finest moment came in the ninth. He'd stayed in the game to replace Evan Longoria at third and, facing Pérez, drove in two runs with a single to left that expanded Arizona's lead to 9-1. Unfortunately, he tried to stretch his single into a double, but the Rangers gunned him down to end the inning.

How did Emmanuel Rivera get to Arizona and the World Series?

Drafted by the Royals in the 19th round of the 2015 amateur draft, Rivera broke into the majors in 2021 and, playing 29 games for the Royals, hit .256 with a homer and five RBIs.

Rivera started last season at Triple-A Omaha but returned to Kansas City for good in early May and, with Hunter Dozier slumping, soon became the club's regular third baseman. But he developed a slump of his own and his average fell below .200 in late June.

Then he heated up. He hit safely in all but three of the 17 games he played in July, and his .333 average for the month raised his average to .237.

And that's where his bat work stood Aug. 1 when, with the trade deadline just a day away, the Royals suddenly shipped Rivera to the Diamondbacks for pitcher Luke Weaver. While Weaver posted a 5.59 ERA in 19.1 innings for Kansas City down the stretch, Rivera clubbed six homers and hit .227 in 39 games for Arizona,

Weaver moved on to Seattle on a late October waiver claim, became a free agent in November, signed with Cincinnati in January, returned to Seattle as a free agent after the Reds released him in August, and ended up with the Yankees via a September waiver claim.

Rivera, on the other hand, returned to Arizona and spent the season splitting time with Longoria at third. He hit .261 in 86 games; his 65-game .974 hot corner fielding percentage was above league average and his OAA was 1.

After Saturday night's two-RBI single, Rivera is 1-for-1 in the Series (he replaced Longoria late in Game 1 but didn't get an at-bat), and is 3-for-13 (.236) with three RBIs this postseason.

Sunday is a travel day for the Diamondbacks and Rangers. The Series resumes in Arizona Monday evening; game time is set for 8:03 p.m. EDT, with Max Scherzer slated to pitch for the Rangers and Brandon Pfaadt scheduled to start for the Diamondbacks.

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