SHARE

As the Royals’ improbable ninth inning unfolded on Friday night, second baseman Whit Merrifield began to do the math.

“I counted out in my head that if it worked out, I was going to get to hit and I had confidence in our guys to get the job done, and they did,” Merrifield said. “I had a chance and took advantage of it.”

Merrifield, the seventh batter in the ninth inning, delivered a two-run double as the Royals scored four times and stunned the Blue Jays 5-4 in front of a sold-out crowd at Kauffman Stadium. Merrifield thought it was his first walk-off hit since 2010 when his single for South Carolina won the College World Series against UCLA.

The Royals (36-36) got back to .500 for the first time since April 19 when they were 7-7.

It was their second straight improbable victory, coming two days after Salvador Perez’s eighth-inning grand slam shocked the Red Sox in a 6-4 Royals win. The Royals are an American League best 14-6 in June, and now two games out of a wild-card spot and three games behind the AL Central leading Cleveland Indians.

At one time, the Royals were 10-20, but they have won 10 of 12 to get back to the even point in the standings.

“That’s always your goal, especially when you are (10) games under .500 at one point, is to get to .500 and then you can seriously start to think about competing,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Toronto led 2-1 going to the ninth inning and tacked on a pair of runs against Joakim Soria that seemed to doom the Royals.

But the Royals were not deterred. With one out, Salvador Perez doubled. After Mike Moustakas popped out, Brandon Moss battled back from a 1-2 count and walked. Alcides Escobar followed with an RBI single.

Left-hander Aaron Loup relieved Ryan Tepera for the Blue Jays, and the Royals’ Alex Gordon lined a single to center that scored Moss to make it 4-3. Jays manager John Gibbons summoned Jason Grilli to face Merrifield.

Merrifield smashed a double to the wall in left and Escobar scored easily. Gordon raced home and beat the throw from cutoff man Troy Tulowitzki as the 38,848 fans roared their approval.

Royals third-base coach Mike Jirschele said he had no doubts about his decision to send Gordon.

“I was going to send him all the way,” Jirschele said. “As soon as Whit hit the ball, I knew it was going to get to the wall. He (Toronto’s Dwight Smith Jr.) was going to have go back and make a good throw into Tulowitzki. Gordo was halfway there (to third).

“As soon as Gordo was halfway, I decided we were going for it. Make them make two perfect throws to get him.”

It looked bleak early despite a strong start from right-hander Jakob Junis, who allowed two runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out four, walked two and hit a batter. It was the best of his five starts in his rookie season.

The Blue Jays got their two runs off Junis in the fourth inning. Former Royal Kendrys Morales was hit by a pitch and scored on a double by Tulowitzki. Tulowitzki took third on a flyout and scored on a wild pitch.

The Royals got a run back in the seventh.

Lorenzo Cain led off with a hustle double on a ball hit to center field. Eric Hosmer battled back from an 0-2 count and grounded to second, where the Blue Jays’ Ryan Goins booted the ball as Cain took third.

Perez’s single brought home Cain and cut the deficit to 2-1. Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ came back to retire Moustakas on an infield pop-up and strike out Moss. Danny Barnes relieved and got Escobar to hit a fly to center fielder Kevin Pillar to end the threat.

It seemed like the Royals’ best chance at a win, but they proved otherwise in the ninth inning.

And while the walkoff hit was Merrifield’s first in the majors, this time he got the keepsake. After Merrifield’s single won the 2010 College World Series, a UCLA player kept the ball and has refused to give it to the Gamecocks.

But when Tulowitzki’s throw trickled past Russell Martin and Merrifield’s teammates stormed the field, a Royals employee ran to the backstop and grabbed the souvenir. It was authenticated and given to Merrifield.

Things are working out well for the Royals these days.

Royals 5, Blue Jays 4

Toronto

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Bautista dh

5

1

3

0

0

1

.230

Martin c

3

1

1

0

2

1

.227

Donaldson 3b

5

0

1

1

0

3

.282

Morales 1b

3

1

0

0

0

0

.268

Smoak 1b

1

0

1

1

0

0

.306

Tulowitzki ss

5

1

2

1

0

0

.234

Smith Jr. lf

5

0

3

0

0

1

.400

Pillar cf

3

0

0

0

1

1

.250

Goins 2b

2

0

0

0

1

0

.213

a-Barney ph-2b

1

0

0

0

0

0

.223

Parmley rf

3

0

0

0

0

1

.000

Totals

36

4

11

3

4

8

Royals

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Merrifield 2b

5

0

2

2

0

1

.291

Bonifacio rf

4

0

1

0

0

1

.246

Cain cf

4

1

1

0

0

1

.281

Hosmer 1b

4

0

0

0

0

1

.300

Perez c

4

1

2

1

0

0

.295

Moustakas 3b

4

0

0

0

0

0

.272

Moss dh

3

1

1

0

1

2

.187

Escobar ss

4

1

1

1

0

0

.201

Gordon lf

4

1

1

1

0

1

.189

Totals

36

5

9

5

1

7

Toronto

000

200

002

4

11

1

Royals

000

000

104

5

9

0

Two outs when winning run scored.

a-grounded out for Goins in the 8th.

E: Goins (5). LOB: Toronto 11, Kansas City 6. 2B: Tulowitzki (8), Smith Jr. (2), Merrifield 2 (10), Bonifacio (8), Cain (13), Perez (14). RBIs: Donaldson (18), Tulowitzki (16), Smoak (48), Merrifield 2 (28), Perez (43), Escobar (19), Gordon (14). CS: Bautista (2). S: Parmley.

Runners left in scoring position: Toronto 7 (Donaldson 2, Smith Jr., Pillar, Parmley, Barney 2); Kansas City 3 (Cain, Hosmer, Escobar). RISP: Toronto 2 for 13; Kansas City 4 for 13. Runners moved up: Smith Jr., Goins, Cain. DP: Kansas City 1 (Perez, Merrifield).

Toronto

I

H

R

ER

W

K

N

ERA

Happ

6.2

4

1

1

0

5

105

3.83

Barnes

1

1

0

0

0

1

22

2.23

Tepera

1

2

3

3

1

1

32

3.26

Loup L, 2-1

0

1

1

1

0

0

1

3.38

Grilli

0

1

0

0

0

0

5

6.97

Royals

I

H

R

ER

W

K

P

ERA

Junis

6.1

6

2

2

2

4

93

4.97

Moylan

0.2

0

0

0

1

2

17

6.46

Alexander

1

2

0

0

0

0

17

1.38

Soria W, 4-2

1

3

2

2

1

2

27

3.90

Loup pitched to 1 batter in the 9th.

Holds: Barnes (5), Tepera (6). Blown save: Grilli (2). Inherited runners-scored: Barnes 2-0, Tepera 1-0, Loup 2-1, Grilli 2-2, Moylan 1-0. HBP: Junis (Morales). WP: Junis, Tepera.

Umpires: Home, Laz Diaz; First, Joe West; Second, John Tumpane; Third, Cory Blaser. Time: 3:16. Att: 38,848.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here