Royals capitalize on Rangers' miscues in finale

Royals capitalize on Rangers' miscues in finale

Royals capitalize on Rangers' miscues in finale
KANSAS CITY -- Beating the Texas Rangers on a walk and two infield errors was characterized as an ugly win to Royals manager Ned Yost. The skipper bristled a bit, if good-naturedly.

"Ugly?" Yost said. "C'mon, how can you call that game ugly?"

Obviously, he didn't view it that way after his Royals beat the Rangers in 10 innings, 7-6, in rather bizarre fashion on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium.

They did it with back-to-back Rangers errors on double-play balls made by a reserve shortstop who rarely plays, and a rookie third baseman in his third big league game.

The game was tied at 6 and Greg Holland, the Royals' recently-anointed closer, had just completed two draining innings.

Billy Butler led off the Royals' 10th against left-hander Michael Kirkman, an old buddy and high school rival from their days in Florida. What Butler was thinking about, though, was hitting a leadoff home run as he did on July 18 for a walk-off blast against Seattle.

"I certainly tried to, but I fouled it off," Butler said.

So he settled for a leadoff walk from Kirkman.

"We've know each other for a long time but that's the game. You cross the lines and it is what it is," Butler said. "We'll still go to dinner when he comes back."

Eric Hosmer, getting a Sunday break from the lineup, was sent in to pinch-run and Salvador Perez was at bat.

"We contemplated bunting with Sal [Perez], but he's not a kid that does a lot of bunting, and we haven't been real successful at bunting, so let's go ahead and swing away," Yost said. "Of course, the first pitch he hits a double-play ball and it was such a rocket, the shortstop booted it."

The shortstop was little-used Alberto Gonzalez, just into the game for Elvis Andrus, who developed a sore shoulder. Eager to start a double play, he booted the ball. That brought up Jeff Francoeur, who'd homered earlier. Hosmer watched intently from second base.

"I saw Frenchy show bunt on the first one there, so again the goal was to get a good secondary lead and get there for the bunt," Hosmer said. "But he hit the chopper and I was behind [Mike] Olt, and realized the throw was going to get away and it was just an easy pathway home."

Olt, the third baseman, threw only vaguely close to second base and as the ball bounded into right field, Hosmer set sail for home and leaped into the arms of Brayan Pena and Mike Moustakas. The Royals had their fifth walk-off win.

"That's how we drew up," Francoeur said, chuckling. "Two of probably the easiest double-play balls you can make and we're walking off. But, you know, that's baseball. I've won in some weird ways and lost in some weird ways, and this one just happened to go in our favor."

This game wasn't conventional by any means. Royals starter Luke Hochevar gave up five runs in the fourth inning, but four were unearned because of a throwing error by Butler, who started at first base in Hosmer's place.

And Pena, the backup catcher, was getting a rare start as the designated hitter in Butler's usual spot. What Pena did was deliver a clutch two-run homer off Rangers starter Derek Holland in the sixth inning that temporarily gave the Royals a 6-5 lead.

"Everybody knows that I'm not a home run guy," Pena said, "but I'm very glad that it happened and that we gave Hoch the lead."

The Rangers tied the score in the seventh against Aaron Crow, but were prevented from taking the lead when Andrus was thrown out at the plate, center fielder Jarrod Dyson to shortstop Alcides Escobar to catcher Perez.

That set up some tense moments in the last two innings.

In the Rangers' ninth, Greg Holland began his stint by walking Olt, who then stole second and took third on Perez's throwing error. With none out, the Rangers decided to try a squeeze play that went awry when Holland threw a pitch into the dirt that Andrus couldn't bunt. Perez snagged the ball and easily tagged out Olt at the plate.

"We had a runner on third and a guy at the plate who can handle the bat," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "I wanted a run and the situation was perfect."

In their half, the Royals got a couple runners on walks against lefty Robbie Ross but couldn't score. So Yost sent Holland back to the mound for his second inning.

"I did not want to send him out for a second inning," Yost said. "But at that point I really wanted to win that game and I felt he was the best option."

Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz both singled and, after an out, Mike Napoli walked on four pitches to load the bases. Holland was in a mess and Mitch Moreland rifled a shot toward left field -- until Escobar lunged to magically make the catch for the second out.

"I wanted to jump up and down and scream like a little kid," Holland said.

He maintained his composure, and Yost thought the run-saving play was a huge boost for his new closer, who promptly struck out Olt to end the inning. "He was starting to wear down, his tank was starting to get a little empty and I think Escobar's play gave him a little shot of energy because he came back against Olt and was throwing 97, 98 miles an hour," Yost said. "He got into his reserve tank, got through that inning and gave us an opportunity to win it right there."

And although it was somewhat ug ... Wait, Yost has something to say.

"Beautiful," he said. "It's a beautiful win."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.