Eric Hosmer lifted his right leg, coiling his body to strike at the plate, and waited for the pitch to arrive. The radar gun registered the offending curveball from Angels starter Jered Weaver at 69 mph. The baseball exited the field of play at a much greater velocity, snapping a tie and putting the Royals in the lead.
Hosmer unloaded on the pitch and unleashed a decisive, two-run homer in the sixth inning of Thursday’s 4-1 Royals victory. It was his 14th home run of the season. The team cobbled together another run after a pair of walks and a two-out single by backup catcher Drew Butera.
The triumph followed a pair of late-game meltdowns at Kauffman Stadium. On Wednesday, manager Ned Yost let starter Edinson Volquez blow a two-run lead, despite a rested bullpen. On Thursday, in the first game of this four-night series, Wade Davis and Greg Holland combined to waste a four-run lead.
Davis did not pitch on Friday. Ryan Madson gave up a double and two walks, but still navigated through a scoreless seventh. Kelvin Herrera buzzed through three batters in the eighth. In an impressive rebound performance, Holland gave up a single but recorded three strikeouts in the ninth.
The Royals have now won six of the eight games on this homestand. They will play a pair of nationally televised games to close it out, first on Fox Sports 1 on Saturday and then on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.
The Royals trailed three batters into the game. Starter Danny Duffy allowed a sharp liner by recent Angels addition Shane Victorino to rattle around the left-field corner. The bouncing ball gave Ben Zobrist trouble. The additional time allowed Victorino to land at third. He was awarded a triple.
The extra base proved inconsequential. Because reigning American League MVP Mike Trout bested Duffy soon after. Duffy tried to pound Trout inside with fastballs. Trout still managed to slice a 97-mph fastball, which arrived down and in, somehow into right for an opposite-field, RBI double.
Through the first three innings, the Royals did not record a hit against Jered Weaver, the veteran righty. Weaver was making his only his second start since June 20. He missed extended time because of an injured hip. But even with his fastball hovering in the mid-80s, Weaver can still frustrate opponents.
For the first portion of the evening, the lone drama centered around a succession of hit batsmen. Duffy clipped a pair of Angels in the second inning, but escaped with an scoreless frame by leaving the bases loaded. Weaver hit Butera in the third. He hit Mike Moustakas in the fourth. In the fifth, Duffy opened the inning by losing the handle on a curveball that hit outfielder Kole Calhoun.
Weaver did not respond. Instead, he allowed Kansas City to claim the lead. The sixth started with a double to right by Zobrist, who pulled a changeup for only his team’s second hit of the night. The Royals did not need a hit to tie the game.
Lorenzo Cain shortened his swing, trying to shoot a single to right field. Instead, he chopped a grounder toward first baseman Albert Pujols. The ball skipped by Pujols, who was charged with an error. Charging in from right field, Calhoun did not attempt a throw home.
There was nothing Calhoun could do. And there was nothing the Angels could do when Hosmer’s blast took flight.