In the clutch

The Kansas City Royals have accomplished something two nights in a row that they have not done all season long.  Winning in walk-off fashion.

Not only does this give the Royals two needed wins on their home field but also could be a turning point for the entire season.  Something that the Royals had lacked in their previous two weeks of baseball was the fact that they could not come up with the clutch hits to put them over the top of teams that were trying to give the games away.  Boy does it feel better to be a fan of a team that when given the opportunity to win they take advantage of it.  Smals sample sizes are something that is brought up a lot in baseball but if the Royals continue to have success this season beyond what was expected of them fans can look back at the last two wins in the series against the Milwaukee Brewers at the time when the Royals turned it all around.

Baseball starts with starting pitching.  If a team can’t pitch they can’t win.  In the final two games of the series the starting pitchers, both of whom were struggling coming into these starts, gave the Royals exactly what they needed.  They were not perfect and did give up runs and hits but they kept their team in the game.  The fact that this team is able to be in games in which pitchers like Luke Hochevar and Jonathan Sanchez are on the bump could be a huge stride for a pitching staff that by all means needs some help.  They will not have to be stellar every time out but keeping your team in the game will be the biggest feat that Royals pitchers will have to face for the remainder of the season.  If they can continue to put the talent in the batting order in situations where winning is an option then this team will win more games than the lose.

In Pittsburgh, the Royals bats were dreadful to say it nicely.  But that all turned around when they came home.  In Wednesday’s game against the Brew Crew runs were that of a minimum for the Royals until the ninth inning.  And in baseball the game is not over until one team gets the other team out 27 times.  That was no more evident than when Alcides Escobar stepped up to the plate with the most clutch hit of his young career driving in two runs to tie the game with a triple.  The Royals would later win the game on a literal walk-off when Mike Moustakas walked with the bases loaded in the 11th inning.  The biggest thing to come away from this game was the hit by Escobar in the ninth inning.  Manager Ned Yost caught flack all last season when he continued to choose to not pinch hit for Escobar in situations in which a clutch hit was needed and the thrilling short stop continued to not produce.  But finally that has come to fruition and Yost can tell us all, “I told you so.”

Thursday’s game was a entire different story.  Once again though, the Royals waited until late in the game to score but it does not matter when you score it is the fact that they do.  Eric Hosmer broke through with a two run home run in the bottom of the sixth to put the Royals on the board and more importantly give the Royals the lead in the game.  The fact that starter Luke Hochevar was able to get past the fifth inning was a huge part of the game not only for tonight but also for the weeks ahead giving many in the bullpen the night off and the three relievers who did pitch were able to not throw extended sessions on the field.  Then once again in the bottom of the ninth the Royals used some magic when Brayan Pena came up in the clutch again with a bloop single that scored Mitch Maier to tie the game then the Brewers made a mistake seen before by fans of Royals past by throwing the ball to second base allowing Jarrod Dyson to score all of the way from first and take the Royals to victory.  Only one thing that can be said about how the Royals won the game tonight, clutch hits and “That’s what speed do.”

If the Royals can continue in their ways they will find themselves having success that they did not believe that they could be in after the first couple months of the season.  If pitchers can keep them in games, relievers keep teams down, and they get clutch hits here and their the Royals may be in a race for a division that just seems to not be playing very good baseball as of late.

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