Small ball comes up big for Royals in win

KANSAS CITY — Was this 2014 again?

The Royals pulled out a page from their 2014 playbook and laid a heavy dose of small ball on the Orioles on Saturday, igniting a two-run rally in the eighth for an eventual 7-5 win at Kauffman Stadium.

With the score tied 5-5, Royals catcher Meibrys Viloria led off with a bunt single down the third-base line.

Brett Phillips followed with a bunt in front of the plate. Orioles catcher Chance Sisco fielded the bunt, and looked like he had an easy force at second — but he threw a one-hopper to shortstop Jonathan Villar, who couldn’t handle it.

OK, one more time. Nicky Lopez also put down a bunt right in front of the plate. Sisco had an apparent easy force at third. But his throw to Rio Ruiz was low and skipped in, and Ruiz couldn’t handle it, loading the bases.

Whit Merrifield followed with a sacrifice fly to center to plate the go-ahead run. And Hunter Dozier followed with a squibber hit just softly enough to first baseman Chris Davis that his only play was at first, allowing another run to score.