KANSAS CITY — So, what did it take for the Royals to snap a three-game skid and avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of the Indians?
One of the more bizarre innings you’ll see in a while. The Royals essentially dumped in a few flops shots over the infield, a 25-foot single, and a sun ball on their way to a five-run fifth that paved the way for a 9-6 victory on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium.
Royals manager Ned Yost sounded relieved afterward.
“It really feels good to me,” Yost said. “I’m going to really enjoy this one. We have been playing good baseball, and we ran into a team that is really, really hot. Give them credit. They’re clicking on all cylinders. … To fall behind 3-0 today and continue to battle and fight and end up victorious, I’m going to go home, lay on the couch and feel really good.”
Trailing 5-3 entering the fifth, the Royals got going on Alex Gordon’s single to left-center. Then Hunter Dozier skied a fly ball to center that Oscar Mercado lost in the sun, giving the Royals runners at second and third.
After a walk to Jorge Soler, Ryan O’Hearn hit a dribbler that didn’t even make halfway to the mound. But Indians starter Trevor Bauer tried to glove it and throw it in one motion, and failed. It was ruled an RBI hit. The single was hit too slow to register any exit velocity, per Statcast.
Cheslor Cuthbert followed with a 61-mph flare just over the second baseman for an RBI single, and the score was tied at 5.
Nicky Lopez hit a sharp two-run single up the middle, and the Royals had the lead 7-5. On Friday, Lopez snapped a 0-for-21 stretch with a single.
“I’ve been going through a really tough patch,” Lopez said. “But that’s why you have a good support system, good coaches, teammates. You can shoot through those situations. Times weren’t good, for sure. You’ve just got to stick to the plan, stick to the process and trust that your talent will take over at some point and you’ll find a hole.”
That was it for Bauer, who in frustration took the ball and fired it off the batter’s eye in center field, a throw that traveled close to 380 feet.
The Royals were a little stunned.
“He chucked it, no doubt,” Whit Merrifield said. “It was a hell of a throw. I’d never seen it before, but it didn’t bother me, didn’t bother us. I think Tito [Indians manager Terry Francona] was a little upset, but didn’t bother us.”
Added Royals starter Danny Duffy, who said he understood Bauer’s frustration, “I could throw it over the batter’s eye. No doubt. No doubt. All these guys over here [in the Royals clubhouse] talk about how I can’t do it. I promise you I can. I promise you I can.”
Meibrys Viloria followed Lopez’s hit with an RBI single up the middle, and it was 8-5. Merrifield singled softly (71 mph), loading the bases again. But Gordon struck out and Dozier popped out.
“We caught a couple breaks today,” Merrifield said.
It was an inning reminiscent of the 2014 Royals, who delivered many crazy rallies characterized by infield hits and walks and bloopers.
“I don’t know nothing about ,” Yost said. “I don’t remember. I just know it was a great inning. The guys put together good at-bats and kept the line moving.That’s especially true against a guy like Bauer.
“We got enough leeway to not have to walk a razor’s edge made it a lot easier to manage.”