Royals' bats have knack for late-inning magic

Royals' bats have knack for late-inning magic

KANSAS CITY -- If there's one characteristic the Royals have shown this postseason, and especially in the American League Championship Series against the Blue Jays, is that they save their best for last.

From the seventh inning on this postseason, the Royals have scored 34 runs, by far the most of any team. The Mets are next with 10 runs scored.

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That late-inning proclivity has really shown up in the ALCS, where Kansas City has outscored Toronto by a 22-3 count from the seventh inning on. The Royals have a whopping 1.103 OPS in the late going.

Game Date Matchup
Gm 1 Oct. 16 KC 5, TOR 0
Gm 2 Oct. 17 KC 6, TOR 3
Gm 3 Oct. 19 TOR 11, KC 8
Gm 4 Oct. 20 KC 14, TOR 2
Gm 5 Oct. 21 TOR 7, KC 1
Gm 6 Oct. 23 KC 4, TOR 3

What gives?

"I think we continue to focus on our at-bats," manager Ned Yost said. "There's a lot of determination in that dugout and they just stay focused is what they do.

"A lot of times starters, you know, they start out really good and you catch a little bit of a break if they start to tire a little bit, and you maybe take advantage of some of those situations. But I think it's the ability to stay focused and the ability to keep pushing."

Utility infielder Christian Colon, who was part of the amazing AL Wild Card comeback win in 2014, said the origin of that late-game magic was in that game.

"After that, you can just sense in the dugout that it is never over until there are 27 outs," Colon said. "Honestly, no one feels that we're ever out of a game. Our intensity kicks up a notch. The energy goes up. I'm not saying we don't have that earlier in games, but it's just more late in games.

"We saw it this year in Houston. We saw it in Game 2 of this series. We've seen it all the time this series. Even that game when we were down, 9-2, and we came back to make it 11-8, I swear, if we could have had one more inning, we would have won that game. That's how everyone felt."

The dugout, Royals players say, tends to really come alive late in games.

Third baseman Mike Moustakas led the vocal charge in Game 4 of the AL Division Series, when the Royals were six outs away from winter before putting together a five-run rally en route to a 7-6 win.

"He just started yelling and getting everyone fired up," outfielder Paulo Orlando said. "And then everyone started doing the same. There's a lot of talking and yelling in that dugout late in games."

There's a belief in each other, Colon added.

"Everyone just kind of looks in everyone's eyes and we just know," Colon said. "You know, you feel, that something good is going to happen."

The Royals seem to change their approach at the plate late in games as well.

"It does seem a little different than earlier in games," Colon said. "We get to late in games, and everyone tends to shorten their swings a little and just put the ball in play and get on base. We have that saying of, 'Keep the line moving.' We don't try to do too much. Just get on and let the next guy do his thing.

"It's working."

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.