KANSAS CITY, Mo. —After further review... Billy Butler's drive to deep left turned into a two-run homer Wednesday afternoon that lifted the Royals to a 2-0 walk-off victory over the Los Angeles Angels at Kauffman Stadium.
"I didn't know if it was gone or not," he said. "I just knew I put a good swing on it. I knew I at least had a double. It's tough to tell here on home runs because of the yellow line, and the seats are right there, so it bounces back a lot."
Butler's one-out drive against reliever Scott Downs was initially ruled in play as the ball caromed back onto the field. That forced Jeff Francoeur to pull up at third as Butler chugged into second.
Out came manager Ned Yost to confer with third-base umpire Fieldin Culbreth, who made the call. The umpires huddled briefly on the field, then left to examine a video replay and—voila! —Butler had his first career walk-off homer.
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"It looked to me like it hit the screen and bounced back," Yost said, "but I couldn't tell. So, I ran out and told Fieldin Culbreth, 'I've got no stinking idea what that ball hit.'
"And he goes, 'Don't worry about it. We're going to go do the right thing right here, because I'm not really sure either. We'll go check it.' "
It was the fourth video review at Kauffman Stadium since Major League Baseball initiated the procedure for the 2009 season. This one didn't take long before the call was changed to a homer.
Butler circled the bases, scoring after Francoeur, and became a celebratory punching bag at the plate. Butler also got a shaving-cream wipe and a water-bucket dousing on the field in his postgame interview.
"Oh, the best part was beating up Billy," Francoeur said. "The thing with him is you've got to have twice the punches to get through some of that meat."
Butler's homer gave the Royals their eighth walk-off victory of the season and provided a fitting climax to a tense pitcher's duel between Angels starter Tyler Chatwood and five Royals pitchers.
Francoeur started the winning rally by grounding a one-out single up the middle. Butler then worked the count to 3-1 before unloading a 389-foot drive to left that cleared a leaping Bobby Abreu.
What wasn't clear as the play unfolded was whether the ball cleared the green railing before caroming back onto the field, but replays were conclusive.
"The ball disappeared behind that green rail, that's a home run," Angels manager Mike Scioscia agreed. "And if it hit the top of that padding and went into the stands, it's just like hitting the top of the wall and going over. It's a home run."
Tim Collins (3-2) got the victory after pitching the final 1 1/3 innings. He joined starter Felipe Paulino, Greg Holland, Everett Teaford and Louis Coleman in completing the seven-hit shutout.
Butler's homer came one inning after shortstop Alcides Escobar and first baseman Eric Hosmer combined on a highlight defensive play that kept the game scoreless after the Angels loaded the bases with two outs.
Holland turned in 2 2/3 dominant innings, which included six strikeouts, after replacing Paulino to start the sixth. Holland departed after Erick Aybar reached on a two-out infield single in the eighth.
In came Teaford to face Abreu in a left-on-left matchup, but Abreu lashed a double to right that moved Aybar to third. That prompted another change: Coleman to face Torii Hunter in a right- on-right matchup.
But Hunter walked, which loaded the bases and meant another pitching change to Collins, which turned switch hitter Alberto Callaspo to the right side. Callaspo pulled a sharp grounder into the hole between short and third.
Escobar made a diving stop and , after bouncing to his feet, skipped a throw to first, but Hosmer scooped the ball flawlessly for the final out.
"That was a special play," said Escobar, who often shrugs off his web gems. "This was in the eighth inning with the bases loaded and two outs. If that ball gets into left field, it's two RBIs.
"But when I threw to first, I said, 'Oh, come on, Esky!' because I threw the ball like a cutter. But I love Hosmer at first, man."
Chatwood allowed runners in seven of his eight innings but never more than one in any inning — and still settled for a no-decision. So did Paulino, who turned in five innings before exiting h is first start after 71 pitches.
Paulino's effort followed 4 1/3 scoreless innings last Friday in relief at Texas in his first appearance after arriving in a cash transaction from Colorado. He had not worked more than 1 2/3 innings in 18 outings for the Rockies.
"I'm feeling great," he said. "That's what I did last time (in Texas). I just appreciate the opportunity the Royals are giving to me and, hopefully, I'll be even better in my next start."
Paulino worked around a major jam in the third inning when the Angels loaded the bases with no outs on two infield singles and an error. He wiggled away clean by striking out Abreu and getting Hunter to ground into an inning-ending double play.
"That was a tough situation," Paulino said. "I just tried to shut down the inning, and everything went right."
Right to the end.