KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Even on a night when Magic has no magic, right now, it just doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter at all. These Royals can do anything — anything that needs doing.
How long this lasts is anyone’s guess but, right now, it’s absolutely spell-binding for their long-numbed fan base.
So what that Ervin “Magic” Santana didn’t have it Friday night? The Royals simply erased a three-run deficit with a six-run sixth inning in a remarkable 9-6 victory over the Boston Red Sox at Kauffman Stadium.
That makes (deep breath) three straight victories, including two in a row over the Red Sox; 15 victories in their last 17 games; and 17 victories in 21 games since the All-Star break.
Got all that?
Now, realize it’s approaching mid-August; the Chiefs just opened their exhibition schedule, and the Royals can calculate the postseason geometric possibilities rather than count down a tragic number to elimination.
And games like Friday’s comeback victory make anything seem possible.
Santana lasted a season-low 3 2/3 innings before departing after allowing six runs and nine hits while laboring through 97 pitches. It was, at minimum, the second-worst outing in his 23 starts.
Much of Santana’s problems came with two outs: Daniel Nava’s RBI single in the first, Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s RBI double in the third and Mike Napoli’s three-run double in the fourth.
The Royals kept pace for a while against Boston starter Jake Peavy, a trade-deadline acquisition from the White Sox.
Justin Maxwell ignited a two-run second inning with a homer, and Alex Gordon erased a 3-2 deficit with a homer in the third.
But Napoli’s drive, which carried over Maxwell’s head in center, finished Santana and put the Royals on the canvass.
Until that magnificent sixth.
First, the Royals knocked out Peavy by opening the inning with successive singles by Maxwell, Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar. That produced one run.
Reliever Drake Britton replaced Peavy and loaded the bases by walking George Kottaras before Miguel Tejada, batting for Elliot Johnson, fouled out to first. David Lough made it 6-5 with a sacrifice fly to right.
There was a bit of good fortune in that sac fly. Moustakas broke early on the drive, which forced him to retreat and make a belated dash for the plate. He scored only by eluding Saltalamacchia’s tag.
Escobar and Kottaras moved up on the throw home, which enabled both to score when Eric Hosmer served a single into left field.
The Royals led 7-6, and Santana was off the hook for a loss.
Pedro Beato replaced Britton and offered up a first-pitch slider to Billy Butler, who lined an RBI double to center for a 8-6 lead. Gordon walked before Maxwell pulled an RBI single through the left side.
And it was 9-6.
Moustakas’ foul pop to second ended a six-run inning.
Thereafter, it was just a matter of holding the lead for Francisley Bueno, who worked 2 1/3 scoreless innings after replacing Santana.
Kelvin Herrera pitched around a leadoff single in the seventh before Tim Collins worked into big trouble in the eighth.
Jacoby Ellsbury battled through 10 pitches for a leadoff walk, but Shane Victorino followed with one on four pitches.
Right now, though, the Royals get what they need.
Dustin Pedroia’s sharp grounder to third resulted in a double play with force outs at third and second. Collins ended the inning when David Ortiz hit a pop to third.
Greg Holland closed out the victory for his 31st save. Bueno, 1-0, was the winner. Britton, 1-1, was the loser.
It sure didn’t start well.
Santana yielded a one-out single in the first inning to Victorino before walking Pedroia after jumping ahead 1-2 in the count.
Victorino took third on David Ortiz’s foul fly to right when Lough nearly collided with Johnson in making the catch.
Nava then pulled a hopper past Hosmer at first for an RBI single (although Victorino would have scored from second). A walk to Napoli loaded the bases before Stephen Drew grounded to first.
Maxwell pulled the Royals even with a leadoff homer in the second. It was his third homer in 13 at-bats since arriving in a July 31 trade from Houston.
Escobar punched a one-out single to right before Kottaras walked. Johnson flied to center, but Lough delivered the go-ahead run with a ground-ball single up the middle.
Santana spit the lead right back in the Boston third.
First, Ortiz tied the game with a one-out homer. Santana then found two-out trouble by nicking Napoli with a pitch before Drew lined a single to right.
The Red Sox took a 3-2 lead when Saltalamacchia pulled an RBI double past first, but it only lasted until Gordon’s one-out homer in the bottom of the inning.
The Royals threatened for more, but Ellsbury took away extra bases from Moustakas with a leaping two-out catch at the right-center wall after a long run.
Santana got two quick outs in the fourth before trouble sprouted when Pedroia and Ortiz singled. Santana loaded the bases by hitting Nava with a 1-2 pitch.
Napoli then cleared the bases with a three-run double over Maxwell’s head in center -- the sort of drive that Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson have been running down more often than not.
The Red Sox led 6-3, Santana departed ... and it all just set the stage for an improbable comeback.