In the space of four batters, the Kansas City Royals went from a tie to a win, then a breather and broke Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora and earned him an ejection.
That’s how quickly the Royals turned the game around and put the heat on their guests in the decisive seventh inning of a 7-3 victory before a reported 18,970 in the opener of a four-game series at the Kauffman Stadium on Thursday night, the first game of an 11-game homestand for the Royals.
A walk, a pair of hits and a big swing from catcher and team point guard Salvador Perez kept the Royals in control.
“It’s just handing it over to the next guy, the next man,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “Not afraid to bring guys in, bring them in and then you get the big blast like Salvy did to give us some space.”
The game also served as KC’s return of former Royals first baseman and World Series champion Eric Hosmer, as well as his Red Sox debut.
Hosmer had a great view of how things unfolded on the seventh. The Red Sox had just scored in the top of the inning to tie the game, 3-3, when the Royals responded.
“It was a really close game, but I feel like the energy in the dugout is really, really good,” said Royals rookie MJ Melendez, who homered in the first inning. . “We’ve been really, really close, so now it’s about taking those games and trying to run with them, going forward and having a really good streak.”
The Red Sox turned to left-handed reliever Darwinzon Hernandez with left-handed Royals hitters Nicky Lopez and Melendez slated to start the inning.
Lopez drew a first step on a full count to set things in motion. Then Melendez singled to put runners first and third for Bobby Witt Jr.
Witt lined up a single past Xander Bogaerts’ outstretched arm and into left field as Lopez scored the go-ahead.
That brought Perez to the plate with a chance to add a one-run lead with no outs and two men on base.
“Nicky had a really good batting,” Melendez said. “I was just watching his at bat while I was on the deck, just trying to see what the pitcher was doing to him and just trying to stay patient and get him to come to me once I got to 2-1. I was really just trying to find some ground to hit, and I was able to do that.
“We kind of picked up the momentum from there. Bobby came in with huge success. Then Salvy, of course, the home run. It’s like a script every time. I feel like whenever we are in such an important situation, Salvy is always ready to get the job done. He did it again today. »
Things got confusing when Perez smashed an absolute laser beam at 110 mph down the left field line where it appeared to hit the top of the wall and ricochet back to left center field.
Umpires ruled it a home run, a three-point blast and Perez’s 15th of the season. The ball hit a piece of padding between the bottom of the foul post and the top of the padded outfield wall.
“It’s hard to see home plate, you know,” Perez said. “I just looked for the referee. He raised his finger and I directed the bases.
The play prompted a video replay review.
Perez said he hadn’t seen the replay and didn’t seem to feel the need to.
“A home run is a home run,” Perez said. “How am I going to discuss a circuit? I say thank God.
After review, the home run was upheld and Cora came onto the field to voice her objections to home plate umpire and team manager Bill Welke until Welke threw him out of the game.
Asked if he thought the ball went out of the stadium, Matheny replied: “Salvy called homer, so I believed him.”
Matheny said his main concern would have been the placement of the runners if they canceled the call.
The three-run homer gave the Royals a 7-3 lead and closed the game.
“We never let our heads down, even though they equalized in the seventh,” Perez said. “It’s really a good thing. You know, we’re coming back. We will compete. We scored some points. We had the opportunity, Witt, Junior got the hits to bring the guys in. I hit a home run after that. It was a great answer.
Royals starting pitcher Kris Bubic made his fourth straight quality start, bouncing back from a turbulent first inning to go six innings and strike out six with just one walk.
Bubic allowed two runs in the first inning, an inning in which the first three batters reached base, but then limited the Red Sox to just two hits over the next five innings.
The Red Sox didn’t have a runner reach second base against Bubic after the first inning.
The Royals’ first three hitters, Perez (2 for 4, home run, four RBIs), Melendez (2 for 4, home run, two runs scored), and Witt (2 for 4, RBI, two runs scored, stolen base) combined for more than half of the team’s total hits.
Lopez had one hit, two walks and two stolen bases.
heart and hustle
The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA) has named Witt the Royals’ Heart and Hustle Award for 2022. The overall winner will be announced in mid-November on MLB Network.
The award recognizes players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball as well as a desire and work ethic on and off the field.
The new guys
Royals first-round pick Gavin Cross, an outfielder from Virginia Tech, began his pro career playing in the Arizona Complex League on Thursday night.
Second-round pick Cayden Wallace, third baseman, is scheduled to play his first game in Arizona on Friday night.
This story was originally published August 4, 2022 10:24 p.m.