If Alex Gordon succeeds in resurrecting what was once viewed as immense potential – and wouldn’t that be nice? – then remember what happened Friday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Gordon reversed a miserable evening, for himself and the Royals, with a dramatic three-run homer that produced a 7-5 walk-off victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
“At first, I kind of knew (it was out),” Gordon said, “but I’ve been having some bad luck. I was just hoping someone wasn’t going to jump over the fence and catch it. It seemed like I got around the bases pretty quickly.”
Gordon had just four hits in 28 previous at-bats in his seven games since returning from Class AAA Omaha. He was also hitless in four at-bats Friday while stranding six runners.
“It looked like Gordon sold out on a heater and got it,” Orioles third baseman Ty Wigginton said. “He just cheated and got a hold of it.”
Gordon drove a 1-0 pitch from Orioles closer Alfredo Simon through a light drizzle into the right-field seats – and gave a sharp fist pump as the ball cleared the wall. He was mobbed by teammates at the plate.
It was the Royals’ first walk-off homer in more than two years and only the third in franchise history to erase a deficit with two outs in the ninth inning.
It also enabled the Royals to break a five-game skid and win for just the fourth time in their last 18 games. They also moved one game ahead of Cleveland in the battle to avoid last place in the American League Central Division.
“We needed a win in a bad way here,” manager Ned Yost admitted. “We’ve been struggling to score some runs, and our pitchers have been struggling to keep us in ballgames.”
The Royals were down to their last out – after blowing leads of 3-0 and 4-3 – before storming back. Rick Ankiel worked a two-out walk and raced to third when Wilson Betemit, atoning for a costly error, delivered his third single.
“I was leaving a lot of guys on base,” Gordon said. “And luckily enough, Ankiel and Betemit had good at-bats and were able to put me up in that spot one more time. This time, luckily, I came through.”
Blake Wood, 1-2, gained his first major-league victory by pitching a scoreless ninth after Kyle Farnsworth coughed up a 4-3 lead in the eighth inning.
Simon, 2-2, was the loser.
It looked grim until the late comeback.
Nick Markakis opened the Baltimore eighth inning against Farnsworth with a sharp single back through the box. Markakis scored on Wigginton’s RBI double into the right-center gap.
Luke Scott flared a single to left that moved Wigginton to third before Adam Jones hit a chopper to third.
If Betemit handles the ball cleanly, he has a play at the plate on Wigginton. But Betemit booted the ball, which was spinning, and Wigginton scored the go-ahead run.
“I’m not going to make excuses,” Betemit said. “I have to make that play.”
Everyone was safe on the error, but the Orioles botched the chance for a bigger inning. A poor sacrifice bunt by Felix Pie resulted in an out at third before a strikeout/caught-stealing double play ended the inning.
That would prove costly.
Simon began the ninth by retiring Billy Butler and José Guillen on grounders to short before Ankiel started the comeback with a walk.
“It seemed like the same game as (Thursday’s night 6-5 loss in 11 innings),” Gordon said. “We had opportunities. We just didn’t do it. Tonight, we were able to come through.”
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