Finally, a little blue thunder at Kauffman Stadium. And not a moment too soon.
Just when the Royals’ second homestand, after a promising start, was starting to resemble that miserable first homestand, Billy Butler delivered a three-run homer in the eighth inning Tuesday night that produced a 6-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
Until then, this one had all the earmarks — all-too familiar earmarks — of another disaster, and a third straight loss.
Lefty Danny Duffy added to the rotation’s mounting woes by lasting just 4 1/3 innings, although he did get his work in, 102 pitches worth, while surrendering four runs on seven hits and five walks.
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That wasn’t all, though.
The Royals’ usually-reliable defense provided Boston with what loomed, until Butler’s homer, as the winning run. Second baseman Chris Getz made an errant throw to first on a potential inning-ending double play.
Getz had a runner in his face, and it was his first error of the season … but that sure sums up the season to date, doesn’t it?
Butler changed all of that.
The Royals trailed 4-3 when Jarrod Dyson opened the eighth with a walk against Red Sox starter Daniel Bard. A four-pitch walk to Alex Gordon brought reliever Matt Albers into the game to face Butler.
The count went to 1-1 before Butler crushed a fastball and sent it soaring 402 feet for a no-doubt homer to left. The Royals led by two.
Jonathan Broxton closed out the victory with a scoreless ninth for his sixth save in seven chances. Jose Mijares (2-1) got the victory after working two scoreless innings. Bard (2-4) was the loser.
The victory provides the Royals (10-19) an opportunity to win the three-game series and conclude a winning homestand in tonight’s series finale.
All they have to do is solve lefty Jon Lester — the same Lester who pitched a no-hitter against them in 2008 and who is 5-1 with a 1.30 ERA in seven career starts. Still, that’s better than needing a victory to avoid a sweep.
Butler’s three-run homer came after the Royals blew a terrific chance in the seventh.
Bard had permitted only one hit over the four previous innings, but the Royals stirred to life when Jeff Francoeur served a leadoff single into right, and Mike Moustakas followed with a single through the left side.
Getz’s sacrifice moved the runners to second and third with one out.
Alcides Escobar put down a safety squeeze, but first baseman Adrian Gonzalez turned the play into an out at home when catcher Kelly Shoppach blocked the plate on Francoeur while applying the tag.
The threat ended when pinch-hitter Brayan Peña struck out on three pitches.
But neither Bard nor the Red Sox escaped the eighth.
Duffy pitched around David Ortiz’s two-out double in the first inning but ran into trouble in the second against the bottom of the Boston order.
Will Middlebrooks, who hit two homers on Monday, sliced a one-out double past first. Two-out singles by Marlon Byrd and Shoppach, the eighth and ninth hitters, produced the run.
Then it got worse.
Successive walks to Mike Aviles and Dustin Pedroia forced in another run before Duffy retired Ortiz on a fly to center. Still, Duffy was at 53 pitches through two innings — and down 2-0.
Bard gave the runs back and more later in the inning after Eric Hosmer led off with a single through the left side. A walk to Francoeur moved Hosmer to second before Moustakas grounded into a force at second.
Then it got strange.
With Getz at the plate, Bard balked on a pick-off move to first, which scored Hosmer and moved Moustakas to second. Incredibly, Bard balked again in making a move toward second, which sent Moustakas to third.
Getz then flicked an RBI single into left, which tied the game. A wild pitch — hey, as good as a balk — moved Getz to second. He took third on Escobar’s grounder to second, and Humberto Quintero delivered an RBI single up the middle for a 3-2 lead.
So what did Duffy do? He starts the Boston third with back-to-back walks, which made four walks in a span of five hitters. When Duffy fell behind 2-1 on Nick Punto, who replaced an injured Middlebrooks, out came manager Ned Yost.
Whatever the message was — and it appeared one-sided — Duffy’s next pitch resulted in a double-play grounder. Duffy then ended the inning by retiring Darnell McDonald on a pop to second.
The Red Sox pulled even in the fourth after Gordon appeared to misplay Aviles’ two-out drive to left into a double. Pedroia lined a full-count curve into center for an RBI single.
Gonzalez lined a one-out double into the right-center gap before Duffy walked Punto, which prompted the move to Kelvin Herrera. That seemed to work when Herrera got pinch-hitter Ryan Sweeney to hit a potential double-play grounder to short.
But Getz made an errant throw to first that allowed Gonzales to score — and Boston led 4-3. That’s how it stayed until the eighth.