KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The skies were polite on Saturday. They waited until Edinson Volquez finished the top of the sixth inning before drenching Kauffman Stadium. Volquez jogged off the diamond when torrents of rain began to fall, providing meteorological aid to a club that doesn’t need the help, allowing them to defeat the Cardinals 3-2 in 5 ½ innings.
The umpires called the game after a 70-minute delay. The forecast looked bleak for the rest of the evening and into Sunday. The Royals and Cardinals may have to finish the first leg of the I-70 series at a later date. But for now, Kansas City (28-14) claimed yet another victory.
Volquez secured the outcome about 19 minutes before the delay began. With one out in fifth, two outs away from an official game, Volquez clung to a one-run lead. He had loaded the bases for the second time. He was facing Jhonny Peralta, a dangerous hitter with a history of harming Volquez.
Their encounter lasted only one pitch. It was a 94-mph sinker, low and away, Peralta rolled it to second baseman Omar Infante. He fed shortstop Alcides Escobar. He avoided the runaway caboose of outfielder Matt Holliday, attempting to break up the double play, and turned two. The game was official.
It would not end for another six outs. The Royals benefited from a two-run homer by Alex Gordon in the second and a critical single from Salvador Perez in the fourth. They have now won 6 of 7 games on this homestand. Volquez received credit for a complete game after giving up two runs in his six frames.
On Friday afternoon, soon after he learned he would pitch on Saturday, Volquez visited his memory banks to discuss the Cardinals. He spent years dueling them as a member of the Reds. Last year with Pittsburgh, Volquez faced them five times. He harbors respect for their dogged at-bats.
St. Louis vexed him in the second inning. Peralta led off with a double. Volquez nipped the edges of the zone against Randal Grichuk and Matt Adams, but still issued two walks. The bases were loaded with none out for All-Star catcher Yadier Molina.
Molina chopped a grounder to third base. The ball hopped off the grass and appeared to hit Mike Moustakas in the left clavicle. Moustakas could not turn a double play, but recovered to throw out Molina. Volquez limited the damage to that one run. Moustakas left after four innings due to a clavicle contusion.
The threat of rain hovered over the evening. The first drops fell in the top of the second. As Volquez was collecting the final two outs, lightning flashed in the distance and a burst of thunder startled the crowd. The rain became steady.
The fortunes of the Royals soon would. Kendrys Morales led off the bottom of the second with a single. Gordon stepped into the box against John Lackey, a pitcher he has hammered in the past. Gordon carried to the plate a .462 batting average against Lackey. He improved to .500 with his next swing.
Lackey offered up a 90-mph fastball. The pitch caught the outside of the plate. Gordon powered it into the Pepsi Porch in right-center field for his fifth homer of the season.
Kansas City added a run as insurance in the fifth. Eric Hosmer punched a double into the left-field corner. He advanced to third on a fly ball to left. The Cardinals elected to intentionally walk Gordon. Perez responded by ripping an RBI single past third baseman Matt Carpenter.