Rookies show veteran poise in KC comebacks

Rookies show veteran poise in KC comebacks

KANSAS CITY -- As the Royals got into the dugout to start their half of the eighth inning trailing by two runs, first baseman Eric Hosmer shouted to his teammates, "OK, this is where the magic happens."

Sure enough, the Royals promptly pushed three runs across and walked away with a 5-4 win over the White Sox on Sunday, their third straight late-inning, come-from-behind triumph.

And while the Royals' veterans instilled the just-keep-the-line-moving mentality last year, it is amazing how quickly the team's rookies seem to have adopted it as well.

Rookie Brett Eibner, who had the walk-off hit in Saturday's win, patiently drew a bases-loaded walk against Nate Jones that forced in the tying run in the eighth on Sunday. Then rookie Cheslor Cuthbert, again with the bases loaded, produced a run-scoring infield hit to put the Royals up.

Cuthbert's go-ahead RBI single

In each case, neither Eibner nor Cuthbert swung at bad pitches -- veteran approaches from rookies.

"These kids, they're pretty level-headed kids," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We've been talking about that for a couple of days. Sooner or later, you guys are all going to figure that out. They're not real emotional guys. They don't have a lot of highs and lows. They're very emotionally steady. Cuthbert, he's just done a phenomenal job since [Mike Moustakas] got hurt."

Hosmer has taken notice of the maturity level of the team's new faces as well.

"These young guys, they're not really young in age, but these rookies that are coming up, they're continuing to produce," Hosmer said. "You throw them in there, their second or third big league game, and they come up with the game on the line. They look like they've been here for weeks, or like they've been here for years. That's special. It really is."

Royals get sweep on comebacks

Eibner, a power hitter in the Minors, had only one thought: Just put the ball in play.

"I choked up and kind of went into a two-strike approach just to make sure to give myself the best opportunity to put it in play and tie it up," Eibner said. "I shortened everything up, and when it got to 3-0 with him missing like he did, I was taking all the way there. Pressure was on for him to throw a strike. It was the same with the next pitch."

Yost again emphasized that he has no worries about how his inexperienced players will perform.

"[Whit Merrifield], Cuthbert, Eibner, they're not overwhelmed in this situation," Yost said. "You can't put Eibner in any more crucial situations than he's been in his first three games. I mean, I don't think in all my years, I might have been in two of those situations. He's been in three of them three straight days."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.