Royals survive marathon in Seattle with 6-5 victory in 12 innings

09/24/2013 1:38 AM

09/24/2013 2:09 PM

Cross Dylan Thomas with the national pastime, and this is what you get: The Royals on a Monday night in front of a sparse crowd at Safeco Field absolutely raging at the dying of the light.

We all know the math. Postseason remains a slim possibility for the Royals, but they’re clinging to it for all they’re worth after a remarkable 6-5 victory over the Seattle Mariners in 12 innings.

“We’re going to do our part,” first baseman Eric Hosmer said. “That’s for sure. We’re just going to keep winning games...the bullpen, Gordo, Salvy, a complete team effort. That’s a real W there. It should be two.”

Salvy Perez’s two-out RBI double broke a 5-5 tie after the Royals twice blew two-run leads. But the Royals also rallied from a 3-2 deficit in the eighth inning and escaped a major Seattle threat in the 10th inning.

Alex Gordon ended that 10th by throwing out Kyle Seager at the plate for an inning-ending double play.

“These last two games have been unbelievable,” Gordon said. “Fun to play in. Emotions running high. Just a lot of energy in the dugout. It was a great game. A lot of players stepped up in a lot of different situations.”

It was Gordon who then opened the 12th inning, with a four-pitch walk from Lucas Luetge. A sacrifice bunt by Emilio Bonifacio moved Gordon to second for Hosmer, who popped out to third.

Luetge walked Johnny Giavotella before Perez yanked a double into the left-field corner. Gordon scored easily, but the Mariners cut down Giavotella at the plate.

One run was enough, barely, for Greg Holland, who wobbled though the bottom of the inning for his 45th save. That ties the franchise record set by Dan Quisenberry in 1983 and matched by Jeff Montgomery in 1993.

It wasn’t easy.

Holland walked the first two hitters but retired Kendrys Morales on a fly to left and struck out Franklin Gutierrez before slipping a strike past Michael Saunders on a full count.

“I’d like to tell you we did that on purpose,” Holland said, “but we didn’t. It’s been exciting the last month or so. This team has been resilient all year, and I think people are starting to see that now.

“It’s just one great play defensively after another. Clutch hits. When we’re not hitting the ball early, our pitching keeps us in games ... it’s just kind of the way it’s been all year.”

It only took 4 hours, 12 minutes.

The Royals pulled their great escape in the 10th inning, which began with Seager reaching third after sending a leadoff drive into the right-center gap against Francisley Bueno.

It was a leadoff double until right fielder Justin Maxwell fumbled the ball for an error; the second costly error by a Royals outfielder.

Center fielder Jarrod Dyson whiffed on a fly ball by Mike Zunino in the seventh inning with a runner on first and the Royals leading 2-1. That resulted in a three-base error.

“The ball moved on me,” Dyson said. “As I went down, it changed eye level. I’m the reason we played so long. I was really (upset) about it. I’m glad the guys were able to pick me up after that.”

There was more picking up to do in the 10th inning after Seager got to third with no outs. After Bueno intentionally walked Morales, the Royals brought in Wade Davis to face Gutierrez and the infield shortened.

“I like coming in,” Davis said, “in tight spots.”

Davis struck out Gutierrez, which prompted an intentional walk to Saunders, whose homer in the eighth inning against Luke Hochevar (after one by Gutierrez) pulled the Mariners even at 5-5.

Endy Chavez batted for Zunino — the same Chavez who spent spring training with the Royals. Chavez sent a fly to short left, and Seager tried to score.

Gordon threw a strike to the plate for a double play on a bang-bang play.

“Seager is pretty fast,” Perez said, “so as soon as Gordon made the throw, I thought I need to catch the ball first. So that’s what I did — just catch the ball.

“It was a pretty good slide. I just put my glove at home plate...he touched my glove. The home plate umpire (Vic Carapazza) got in good position to see everything.

Davis, 8-11, got the victory after pitching a scoreless 11th before Holland closed it out. Luetge, 1-3, was the loser.

The victory boosted the Royals to 83-73, which matched their 2003 victory total for a franchise best since 1993. They also moved 10 games better than .500 for the first time this season.

More important: They closed to within three games of Cleveland for the American League’s final wild-card berth. Both teams have six games remaining.

The Royals play two more in Seattle before closing the season with four in Chicago. The Indians open a two-game home series Tuesday against Chicago before ending the season with four games at Minnesota.

It isn’t just Cleveland, though.

The Royals are also two games behind Texas, which has two more home games against Houston before playing four home games against the Los Angeles Angels.

“It’s a roller-coaster ride,” manager Ned Yost said. “You take the lead and think, `Good, we’ve got Hoch coming in with a two-run lead to get to Holly. Then boom-boom, and the game is back tied.”

Both starting pitchers deserved better.

Royals rookie Yordano Ventura worked five scoreless innings before exiting after Abraham Almonte’s two-out RBI single in the sixth. Will Smith preserved a 2-1 lead at the time by stranding two runners.

Seattle’s two-run seventh, after Dyson’s error, put Brandon Maurer in position for a victory for limiting the Royals to two runs in seven innings. He got a no-decision when the Royals scored three times in the eighth.

Hochevar inherited that 5-3 lead but couldn’t hold it.

“All that matters is we got the win,” Hochevar said. “We had the lead, and those two home runs set us back. But we fought like crazy, and that was a great win. At this point in the year, winning is the bottom line.”

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