ATLANTA — Alcides Escobar got his wind back just in time Wednesday to score the games only run when the Royals ended Atlantas 10-game winning streak with a 1-0 victory at Turner Field.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Escobar lay on the ground, gasping for air, after landing awkwardly in the fourth inning when he dived back to first base after barely avoiding a pickoff play.
I came down on my ribs, he said. All of my air was going out. I couldnt breathe.
He was lucky he wasnt out.
Escobar had just broken a zero-for-15 drought with a leadoff single in the fourth inning when he got caught in no-mans land on his break from first base on a pitch to Billy Butler.
Atlanta catcher Evan Gattis ran toward Escobar but held the ball too long before throwing to first. Escobar managed to dive back safely if painfully.
Trainer Nick Kenney and manager Ned Yost checked Escobar at first before play continued. Gattis mistake proved costly.
Escobar went to second on Lorenzo Cains two-out squib single up the third-base line. Pitcher Mike Minor reached the ball but had no play. Jeff Francoeur followed with an RBI single to left on an 0-2 change-up. Wind restored, Escobar scored easily.
Escobar also produced two defensive gems, but he only got credit for one of them. Both occurred in the second inning.
First, he made a barehanded grab on Juan Francisco one-out grounder after retreating to the outfield grass. While Escobar bounced the throw to first, it appeared to be a scoopable hop but Billy Butler whiffed. It was scored a single.
Chris Johnson followed with a low-line bullet that Escobar short-hopped in going to his knees before starting an inning-ending double play. Second baseman Chris Getz executed a swift catch, turn and throw.
Oh, yeah, Escobar said. That was a tough hop. And on that throw, I said, Come on, Getzie, help me. It was nice. That was a good play.
What a difference a day makes.
Less than 18 hours after the worst outing of his career, reliever Kelvin Herrera bounced back with a scoreless inning while pitching the eighth as the bridge from starter Wade Davis to closer Greg Holland.
I was throwing the same things, Herrera said. It was just better location. My fastball was downhill.
The Royals remain convinced Herrera tipped his pitches Tuesday night when he surrendered three booming home runs in the eighth inning. Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Dan Uggla each went deep in a barrage that turned a tie game into a 6-3 loss.
Herrera and the Royals acknowledged the pitches were poorly located but found it difficult to believe the results: three squared-up swings in the span of four hitters, including two when Herrera was ahead in the count.
I dont know (if I was tipping pitches), Herrera said, but thats what they say. If I was, Im going to fix it.
The USA team believed it could read Herreras pitches when playing the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. The Royals also believed they fixed the problem in the closing days of spring training.
Vive la Frenchy
Right fielder Jeff Francoeur drove in the only run in Wednesdays game while completing a three-for-eight series that also included an assist on a play at the plate in Tuesdays game.
So, yes, it was a nice homecoming for Francoeur, a former Brave who grew up and still lives in the Atlanta area.
It means a little bit more personally, he admitted. You want to say youre focused all of the time, but theres definitely some extra motivation in coming home for me.
More TV time
MLB Network altered previous plans and will now televise Fridays series opener between the Royals and Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston. That telecast wont be available in any area serviced by Fox Sports Kansas City, which is also televising the game.
Fridays game will be the first for the Red Sox at home since Mondays bomb blasts near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
On the clock
The homer by Chris Getz in Tuesdays loss broke a personal streak of 954 at-bats without a homer including his entire career with the Royals, which spanned 829 at-bats and 925 plate appearances.
Jarrod Dyson now holds the distinction of being the current Royal with the longest homerless streak: 367 at-bats since his only big-league homer on Sept. 27, 2010 against Minnesotas Kevin Slowey at Kauffman Stadium. Before you ask, yes, it cleared the wall in right-center field.
The second-longest drought among active Royals is catcher Salvy Perez at 106 and counting since a Sept. 15, 2012 homer against Angels closer Ernesto Frieri.
Class AA Northwest Arkansas right-hander Jason Adam, one of the organizations top pitching prospects, endured a horrific night Tuesday when he yielded nine runs and 10 hits over 22/3innings in a 14-7 loss at Frisco. Even worse (if thats possible), Adam surrendered all nine runs after the Naturals built a 7-0 lead.
It was Adams third successive poor outing. He has a 17.72 ERA after yielding 21 runs and 24 hits over 102/3innings in three starts.
The Royals selected Adam, 21, in the fifth round of the 2010 draft after he completed an all-state senior season at Blue Valley Northwest. He was 13-21 with a 3.48 ERA in 48 starts over his first two pro seasons.
It was 35 years ago Thursday April 18, 1978 that Amos Otis hit the first of his two career grand slams while leading the Royals to a 5-0 victory at Toronto.
Otis blast went to left field and came with two outs in first inning against Dave Lemanczyk at Exhibition Stadium.
Alex Gordons hitting streak ended at 12 games when he went hitless in four at-bats. He batted .396 (12 for 53) during the surge, which included seven multi-hit games.
• Wade Davis has a streak of 13 scoreless innings: seven against the Braves, five on April 10 against Minnesota and the final inning of his April 5 start in Philadelphia.
• The teams meet again June 25-26 when the Braves come to Kansas City for the first time. Atlanta is the only big-league franchise that has never played in Kansas City.