Eric Hosmer’s no-doubt homer enabled the Royals to conclude a long remarkable — and, at times, scary — night into early Thursday morning with a 6-5 victory over the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium.
It was a night that started 2 hours, 37 minutes late because of a rain delay and saw the Royals lose their best player when left fielder Alex Gordon suffered a possible concussion and a bruised hip after slamming into a wall.
“That’s a good win,” Hosmer said. “We’re hoping Gordo is OK, and the word around the street is he’s OK, so that’s like two wins for us in one night.”
Hosmer’s homer also enabled the Royals to survive a betrayal by their own stadium. It provided them with just enough to survive it all — or it did once Greg Holland closed out the game at 1:07 a.m.
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“At least our fans got to see fireworks on the Fourth,” manager Ned Yost said. Yes, there were post-game fireworks for those who remained from the announced crowd of 28,534.
Gordon will be reevaluated later Thursday but believes he will be fine.
“I’ve got a sore butt,” he said. “That’s pretty much all I feel right now. I’ll get reevaluated (later Thursday), but I don’t think it’s that bad. Nothing serious.
“I’ve been on the DL (disabled list) before. I’m not going on again.”
Hosmer’s homer was a two-out bomb on a 95-mph fastball from reliever Cody Allen. It was a no-doubter from the time it left the bat and sailed 421 feet to dead center field.
“That’s a guy who works off his fastball,” Hosmer said. “That’s the main thing we’ve been working on — in counts like that, not missing the fastball. It’s an aggressive approach.”
Will Smith, after blowing a save in the seventh, worked a one-two-three eighth. The Royals then loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the inning — and got nothing.
Johnny Giavotella grounded into a force at home. Lorenzo Cain stumbled coming off third, and had to retreat, when David Lough sent a fly to medium left field. And Jarrod Dyson hit a weak grounder back to the mound.
It was as awful as it sounds, but Holland held the slim margin by setting down the Indians for his 18th save in 20 chances. He had to work around a one-out error by shortstop Alcides Escobar.
What a ride!
“You endure everything we had to endure today,” Yost said, “and not win the ballgame? Puts you in a real grumpy mood quick.”
Instead, smiles reigned afterward in the clubhouse.
Smith, 1-1, got the victory. Allen, 3-1, took the loss. The series, now tied 1-1, concludes at 1:10 p.m. Thursday — less than 12 hours after Holland struck out Michael Bourn.
The Royals had just taken a 5-3 lead with a four-run sixth inning when several lights went dark at midnight because of a preset computer. The Indians had one out in the seventh at the time.
It caused a 12-minute delay that seemed to affect Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie, who walked two straight hitters when play resumed. Smith permitted both inherited runners to score before ending the inning.
“You're rolling in the middle of an inning,” Yost said, “and you've got a 2-2 count on a guy and you get a 12-, 13-minute delay because the lights went out yeah, definitely (that affected Guthrie).”
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Gordon’s injury occurred while chasing after Jason Kipnis’ deep fly with no outs and runners at first and third in the sixth inning. The Royals led 1-0 at the time.
“I went after the ball,” he said, “but I lost myself (positioning) and looked for the wall. That’s when I got turned around. I got off-balance, and I just remember catching the ball. I thought I caught it, honest.
“I don’t know what happened.”
Kipnis circled the bases for an inside-the-park homer that gave the Indians a 3-1 lead while Gordon, whose head slammed into a padded post, lay motionless on the ground.
Gordon eventually limped from the field with assistance from the training staff.
The Royals gathered themselves and answered with four runs in the bottom of the inning for a 5-3 lead. Salvy Perez, Cain and Miguel Tejada had successive one-out RBI singles.
“They knew after they got through the inning that (Gordon) was fine,” Yost said. “Guys ran up and checked on him. They knew that it wasn't anything extremely serious.
“A concussion is serious, but (this appears to be) nothing extremely serious, so they all felt better.”
Guthrie struck out Mark Reynolds to start the seventh and had a 2-2 count on Ryan Raburn when the stadium darkened. Two walks later, Guthrie was gone, and Smith was in.
Bourn grounded an RBI single up the middle that moved Yan Gomes, with the tying run, to third with one out. Asdrubal Cabrera tied the game with a sacrifice fly to center.
Hosmer turned the game back around with his homer.
It was enough. Just.
“A lot of adversity,” Hosmer said. “We come back. Then the lights go out when Guthrie is in a rhythm. You’ve got to wait, and then you give up two runs. So this was a good team victory.
“We realize if we’re going to make a run at this thing, we have to make some noise now against Cleveland. Now, we’ll come back in about two hours and hope we win the next one.”