KANSAS CITY — The Royals weren’t exactly sure what they were getting in third baseman Maikel Franco when they signed the former Phillie as a free agent in the offseason.
What the Royals have learned is that Franco can be huge in the clutch, and that he is tough-minded — for weeks he has been playing through what the Royals have only described as a “lower leg injury.”
Franco came through again Monday night against the Cardinals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City’s 4-1 win. First he scored, gimpy leg and all, from third base in the fifth inning on a slow roller to first off the bat of Alex Gordon. With the contact play on, Franco crossed home plate without a throw, tying the score at 1.
Then in the sixth inning, Franco came up with the bases loaded and two out against Adam Wainwright. Franco punched a sinker on the outer half of the plate down the right-field line for a two-run single.
Franco now leads the Royals with 33 RBIs in 54 games. That, of course, projects to a 99-RBI full season.
And Franco has been lethal late in games. He’s now hitting .354 in the seventh inning or later this season.