Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Game of the Day (9/15/14)

Royals 4, White Sox 3. KC ace James Shields took on Chicago's John Danks, who was once a borderline ace himself, but hasn't held that status in at least four years.

The Sox picked up a run in the top of the first when Adam Eaton, Jose Abreu, and Avisail Garcia all singled. Danks walked Nori Aoki in the bottom of the inning, but left him on. Both starters were perfect in the second, and Chicago pulled further ahead in the third. Eaton led off with a double, Alexei Ramirez singled him to third, and Abreu struck out, but strike 3 went wild, bringing Eaton home and moving Ramirez to second. Conor Gillaspie then singled Ramirez around for a 3-0 lead.

An Alcides Escobar walk and an Aoki infield hit brought the tying run to the plate in the home third, but Lorenzo Cain flied out to leave both men on. Both halves of the fourth passed without a baserunner, as did the top of the fifth; Billy Butler led off the bottom of the inning with a walk, but Danks retired the next three Royals. Shields allowed singles to Garcia and Danks (no, the Sox didn't lose the DH - this was outfielder Jordan Danks, who is now going to make me precisely identify which Jo. Danks I'm talking about for the rest of the game) in the sixth, and a groundout moved them to second and third, but Tyler Flowers grounded out as well to strand them. Danks (the pitcher) allowed an Aoki single and walked Cain in the bottom of the sixth, but Alex Gordon hit into a double play and Salvador Perez struck out. Ramirez and Abreu singled in the top of the seventh, but Shields left them both on.

Javy Guerra replaced Danks (the pitcher) in the bottom of the seventh and allowed a leadoff double to Eric Hosmer, followed by an Omar Infante single that finally put the Royals on the board. Raul Ibanez drew a pinch walk, but Escobar hit into an inning-ending double play. Kelvin Herrera quickly got through the first two Sox in the eighth (including a strikeout of Danks the outfielder), then allowed singles to Dayan Viciedo and Flowers before ending the inning. KC added another run in the bottom of the eighth when Aoki took second on a single-and-error, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a Gordon single; Gordon made it to third on a steal and wild pitch before Jake Petricka relieved Zach Putnam and stranded him. Wade Davis gave up a leadoff hit to Eaton in the ninth, but saw him caught stealing and allowed nothing else.

Petricka remained on the mound for the bottom of the ninth and allowed a one-out Mike Moustakas double. With two outs, pinch runner Jarrod Dyson broke for third on the first pitch to Aoki; the ball caromed away from Flowers, and Dyson rounded third and slid home safely just ahead of the throw. Aoki followed with a double, putting the game winner in scoring position, and was replaced by pinch runner Terrance Gore. Gore took off for third on an 0-2 pitch to Cain, and Cain chopped a high bouncer back up the middle; the ball easily cleared the pitcher, and the Chicago middle infielders had no play at first or at home, as Gore cruised in with the winning run.

Pennant race. Ninth inning. One pinch runner ties the game by scoring from second on a steal-and-wild pitch. Another pinch runner wins it by scoring from second on an infield hit.

If the Royals make the playoffs this year for the first time since the World Series during which I was born, Kansas City is never forgetting this game. Even if they don't, this ending is great enough that they'll remember it for a while anyway.

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