Royals Blast Three Home Runs, Cool Off Indians 9-5
That’s how long it had been since Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, once viewed as power-hitting prospect phenoms destined to clobber 30+ homers each season, homered in the same game.
Both Hosmer and Moustakas, along with Alex Gordon, went deep for the Royals on Tuesday night in a 9-5 win over the Cleveland Indians. It marked the first occasion of the season that typically light-hitting Kansas City smacked three home runs in the same game. Ned Yost’s batting lineup worked beautifully, Jason Vargas was fantastic, and the extra power helped hold off a late push by the Indians to make it interesting in the end.
Facing Indians ERA leader Corey Kluber, things started off interestingly enough. Jarrod Dyson singled to lead off the game on the fifth pitch of his at-bat. Klubler got out of the inning in seven pitches. How often do you see that – a pitcher has thrown five pitches and is in a one-on, no-out situation, and he winds up throwing just two more to get three outs? When Omar Infante rolled an easy 6-4-3 double play and Eric Hosmer softly grounded out, both on the first pitch, collective groans were heard all throughout the Royal fanbase.
In the third inning, the tables began to turn. With one out, Mike Moustakas walked and Alcides Escobar singled to left. Jarrod Dyson then rolled into what seemed to be a fielder’s choice force at second, but replay showed that second baseman Jason Kipnis was unable to grab the toss from first baseman Carlos Santana. Ned Yost won what was one of the shortest challenges of the season, and the result was a bases-loaded situation for the Royals.
From there, Omar Infante blooped a single into center field to plate Moustakas, and Eric Hosmer scored Escobar on a groundout to first. Billy Butler then drove in Dyson and Infante with a clutch two-out single to right field. Hosmer later added more insurance with a 401 ft. two-run bomb to right-center field in the fifth inning. It was the third of the year for Hosmer, and his second in three days.
The six run lead was more than enough for Royals’ starter Jason Vargas, who flat-out dealed through 7.2 stellar innings. His final line shows that he allowed three earned runs, but no runs were in nor was there anybody on base when he recorded the second out of the eighth inning. A single, a hit-by-pitch, and a double chased Vargas from the game after 116 pitches. The southpaw allowed six hits and struck out five; he walked none but did hit three batters. His ERA lowered to a team-best 3.30.
Tim Collins and Aaron Crow put out the small fire by getting out of the eighth inning up 6-3. As closer Greg Holland warmed up in the bullpen, Alex Gordon didn’t take long to ensure that his presence would not be needed for the night. He popped a high fastball from reliever Nick Hagadone into the right-field bullpen for his team-leading seventh homer of 2014. Following a walk and a groundout, Mike Moustakas joined the homer parade by lining a two-run bomb off of the right field foul pole. It was the first three-homer game for the Royals since September 28, 2013.
Aaron Crow worked in and out of trouble in the ninth inning to log his first save of 2014. Because Crow entered a three-run game in the eighth inning and pitched until the end of the game, he was awarded the unusual five-out save. MLB save rules are both stupid and confusing, and that’s all I’ll say about that. When the dust cleared, the Royals were 32-32, back to .500 for the first time since May 21. They have now won six of their last eight, all against teams with winning records.
For one night, Ned Yost’s lineup worked wonderfully. Infante, Hosmer, and Butler, the three hitters that seemingly every Royals fan want moved down in the order, drove in six of the team’s nine runs. The offense continues to improve under hitting coach Dale Sveum, scoring six or more runs for the sixth time in the 12 games Sveum has served in his role. As a comparison, the Royals plated six or more runs in just 12 of their first 52 games, all under the direction of former hitting coach Pedro Grifol.
The pitching continues to thrive. Relievers not named Wade Davis or Greg Holland continue to look shaky at times, but they didn’t cost the team tonight. The defense, headlined by a fantastic play by Eric Hosmer, continues to be baseball’s best. In the eighth inning, David Murphy grounded to Hosmer, who dove headfirst to slam his glove onto the base in time. It was fitting for the 2013 Gold Glover to make such a play on a night when the team was auctioning off various packages for charity, including the chance to bid on gold baseballs signed by the first baseman.
The Royals hit three home runs, scored nine runs and won the game. Over 25,000 people were present at the K. We found out that Royals players like to marry attractive blonde women. Somebody paid $3,000 to have “country breakfast” with Billy Butler. It was a good night for the Royals all across the board.
Up next: The short two-game series with the Indians concludes tomorrow when Yordano Ventura (3-5, 3.41 ERA) matches up with Trevor Bauer (1-2, 4.08). The Royals will seek their first sweep of a series against an A.L. Central foe of the season.