Cycle again eludes Merrifield on career day

Royals' sophomore slugger drives in 5 during 3-hit game

Cycle again eludes Merrifield on career day

CHICAGO -- For the second time this season, Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield had a chance at a cycle going into his final at-bat.

Merrifield already had a three-run home run, a two-run triple and a single in the Royals' eventual 14-6 win over the White Sox on Sunday.

Merrifield came up in the eighth against reliever Brad Goldberg with the bases loaded. Merrifield eventually got the pitch he wanted, a slider, but he fouled out to right field.

"With the game like it was, it was in my mind [to hit for the cycle]," Merrifield said. "I needed to hit a ball in the gap. I made a pretty poor swing on a hanging slider. But what can you do?"

Back in May, Merrifield only needed a single to get the cycle going into his final at-bat. He popped out on a changeup.

Merrifield talks huge day, win

The last Royal to get a cycle was George Brett in 1990 against Toronto.

"I'm going to get it one of these days," Merrifield said. 'Keep getting opportunities, one of these times it will happen, I hope."

The entire bench was rooting for Merrifield to plug a gap.

"I was kind of hoping he would do it today," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "You get into the situation like today with the bases loaded, it's a little tougher because you know the guy is going to stop in front of you. So, I was thinking, 'Man, he's going to hit a clean double in the gap.'"

Still, it's been a terrific sophomore season for Merrifield, now hitting .296 with 14 home runs and 56 RBIs to go with 19 steals, all primarily from the leadoff spot. His skill set is highly valued by the Royals.

"He's worked himself into a very nice Major League player," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Very consistent offensively. Very good defensively. Turns two nicely. Just an overall nice player. Has a little power and plays nice defense."

While Merrifield might not be well-known nationally yet, chances are he will be soon.

"He may be underappreciated nationally, but we appreciate him," catcher Drew Butera said. "He's always there giving us a good at-bat. And he comes through with the big hit."

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