He is an All-Star, remember.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Billy Butler rescued the Royals from a possible dreadful loss Wednesday night by leading off the ninth inning with a walk-off home run for an 8-7 victory over the Seattle Mariners at Kauffman Stadium.
No, he wasnt sure it was gone.
Never at night here, Butler said. As the night goes on, it gets tougher and tougher to hit it out of here. The air gets thicker. Earlier in the game, I feel it would have gone a lot farther.
I just knew I at least had a double, would have got to second and had a pinch runner. I knew it was a minimum of that.
Butlers blast came on a 1-1 pitch from Josh Kinney and sailed an estimated 395 feet into the left-center seats. It enabled the Royals to win for just the fourth time in 16 games despite blowing leads of 3-1 and 7-3.
I just got a good pitch to hit and didnt miss it, Butler said. Hopefully, that gets us going. Things like that tend to have a positive reaction on a team. Thats what were looking for. Weve been struggling. Hopefully, we can turn it around a little bit.
This victory came after the Royals benefited from a suspect call in the eighth inning that prevented the Mariners from breaking a 7-7 tie after Brendan Ryans one-out triple into the right-center gap against Kelvin Herrera.
Second baseman Chris Getz threw home after fielding Dustin Ackleys grounder, and umpire Jim Joyce ruled catcher Brayan Peñas tag beat Ryan. Replays suggested the Royals caught a break.
The Royals had a chance later in the inning when Alex Gordon hustled his way to a two-out double, which brought Kinney in to replace Oliver Perez for a right-on-right matchup against Alcides Escobar.
A grounder to deep short turned into an infield single that moved Gordon to third, but Eric Hosmer ended the threat with a weak grounder to short.
Greg Holland, 4-2, breezed through the Seattle ninth before Kinney, 0-1, served up Butlers game-winner on a fastball.
I know hes their dangerous guy in the lineup, Kinney said, and we had a plan. I felt good out there. I had command of my pitches. I actually felt real good. But thats what happens when you miss your spot to that guy. He did exactly what hes supposed to do.
Butler had a plan, too.
Take the first pitch, which he reasoned correctly would be a slider.
I figured he wasnt going to come after me with a fastball on the first pitch, he said. I saw the slider. That made me feel good because I saw the spin on it. It made me feel better about sitting on a fastball.
He got the fastball.
Billys not afraid to take a pitch or two just to see what the pitch is doing, Royals manager Ned Yost said. A lot of times he knows that the guy is going to throw him a first-pitch slider, but he wants to take and see what its doing.
Hes a special guy that knows velocities, knows exactly what the balls doing. He studies that stuff real religiously.
Consider this a prayer answered.
Butler provided the Royals with their first walk-off homer since he went deep on June 1, 2011, in a 2-0 victory over the Angels. It brought the Royals surging out of the dugout for a celebratory scrum at the plate.
I was in the bathroom, Gordon confessed. I didnt see what the pitch was. I just heard everybody yelling, so I buckled my pants and came out to join the celebration.
Butler wheeled his batting helmet nearly to the mound as he rounded third and chugged toward the awaiting crowd.
With walk-offs, he said, youve got some emotions going. Youre going to do some things. I had some good distance on that.
It shouldnt have been this tough.
The Royals clubbed Seattle veteran Kevin Millwood for seven runs and 10 hits in five innings but couldnt pull away. The Mariners scored once in the second against Royals starter Bruce Chen and got two in the fourth and one in the sixth.
Seattles three-run seventh against José Mijares and Aaron Crow tied the game and left both starters with no-decisions. Crows ERA is up to 4.06 after allowing eight earned runs in 52/3 innings over his last six appearances.
I feel fine, he insisted. I just havent been getting the job done. Everything is really inconsistent.
The Mariners opened the scoring on Kyle Seagers two-out homer in the second inning, but the Royals countered with three runs later in the inning.
Casper Wells two-run homer in the fourth made it 3-3, but the Royals got a two-run double from Gordon in their fourth and a two-run homer by Lorenzo Cain in the fifth for a 7-3 lead.
Our offense has been clicking, Chen said, and I think its up to us, the starting rotation, to step it up and help our team out. Our offense is pretty solid right now.
But it almost slipped away.
Putting up seven runs, Butler said, and getting a nice lead and having the lead late in the game that would have been a real tough one to drop.
To reach Bob Dutton, call 816-234-4352 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/Royals_Report.