Royals rookie bunts for first career hit in four-run rally
By Scott Chasen
KANSAS CITY -- Raul Mondesi's first Major League hit probably won't be forgotten anytime soon.
Celebrating his 21st birthday during the Royals 7-5 series-finale win over the Angels, Mondesi squared down a bunt, and gunned it to first. By the time the dust settled on the wild play, Mondesi was standing at third and the Royals had come back from an early 3-1 deficit to tie the score at 3.
"That's part of my game," Mondesi said of the bunt. "I liked it."
Before the at-bat, Mondesi had gone just 0-for-5 in his career in the regular season after making his debut in the 2015 World Series.
After the game, he not only had achieved several milestones, including his first hit, but had a pretty special story to go along with them.
"This one I enjoyed," Mondesi said of his birthday. "Playing with these guys is amazing."
The play itself was one of the crazier ones in recent memory. After Shoemaker's throw whizzed by first base, the Angels argued that Mondesi should have been called for interference. The ball rolled all the way into right field, with the Royals ball person scrambling out of the way just in time to make room for right-fielder Kole Calhoun, who slipped as he grabbed at the ball.
Mondesi turned on the jets and blazed to third base, sliding to beat out the throw, although the ball ended up bouncing past Angels third baseman Yunel Escobar. Mondesi's speed on the play impressed several members of the Royals, including outfielder and speedster Jarrod Dyson, who said Mondesi might even be faster than he was.
"I told [Mondesi] he was flying like a jet was stuck up his behind," Dyson said. "He did good tonight."
Royals manager Ned Yost agreed that Mondesi's speed made a big difference.
"Game-changing for sure today," Yost said. "Ended up helping us score four runs."
And sure enough, on the next Royals at-bat, Mondesi crossed home plate for his first run, but even then, his night was far from over. The newly minted 21-year-old had his first career RBI one inning later on a nearly identical play. He beat out an errant throw by pitcher Jose Alvarez to single in a run. Another scored on the throwing error.
All in all, it was a special game for Mondesi, but it wasn't complete without one more thing. As he gave his postgame interview on the field, he received a Gatorade shower from his teammates, another first to go along with all the others.
"It's really exciting. Anytime somebody comes up from the Minor Leagues and provides the spark for us, it's huge," said left-hander Danny Duffy, who gave up three runs in six innings. "[We're] making sure he's cold enough to remember this,"
Scott Chasen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Kansas City. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.