Royals' defense on money with clutch plays

Royals' defense on money with clutch plays

KANSAS CITY -- There's a reason fans and observers rave about the Royals' defense. It was on display again on Wednesday night in a 4-2 win over the Indians.

The Royals came through with two huge double plays to thwart potentially big innings. The first came in the third when the Indians, already with a run in, had runners at first and second for Ryan Raburn. He rolled into a 6-4-3 double play.

Then came the play of the night. With Michael Bourn on third and Jason Kipnis on first and none out in the fifth, Royals left-hander Jason Vargas got Mike Aviles to hit a one-hopper back to the mound. Vargas froze Bourn at third, threw to second baseman Omar Infante for a force, and Infante also froze Bourn at third before firing a strike to first baseman Eric Hosmer for a double play.

Hosmer's impressive fielding

"Well, those double plays were huge," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "The one was special, the one back to Vargy. You have first and third there with nobody out. Vargy did a great job of freezing Bourn at third and then Omar did a great job of freezing Bourn at third again, and then firing a shot to first. That was huge."

Said Vargas, "I think those were the key points of the ballgames. We don't make those happen, they can extend the innings.

"When I looked at [Bourn], I didn't really see if he went back to third. I looked at Omar and then looked back at [Bourn] and he hadn't moved. So I threw it to Omar and he looked him back again, and then turned a double play. I didn't really know we had a chance to execute the double play. That was big."

Hosmer's great nab ends inning

The Royals made another big play in the seventh when the Indians had the potential tying runs on first and second and two out with Aviles at the plate. Aviles shot a grounder toward the open right side, but Hosmer made a running stop and threw to second for the forceout.

"Those are the kind of hits that will let an inning get away from you," reliever Ryan Madson said. "Hoz just shows you what kind of athlete he is."

Hosmer knew it was his responsibility to make a long run to get the grounder.

"I knew Omar was playing up the middle against him, so anything to the right side, I'm the only guy there," Hosmer said. "I knew I had to get there and then hurry. Fortunately, we got it."

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.