VAHE GREGORIAN

Royals’ win Thursday is a microcosm of a crazy season

Updated: 2013-09-06T14:31:13Z

By Vahe Gregorian

All season, the Royals have been creating an alternately auspicious, infuriating, thrilling, befuddling and mesmerizing soap opera.

But there is no guiding light for how this world will turn. Every day is its own independent chapter.

About every unstable element of that impenetrable dynamic was in play all at once Thursday at Kauffman Stadium, where they prevailed 7-6 over Seattle after trailing 5-0 in a wild microcosm of their season that ended with a renewed sign of hope in more ways than one.

Appropriately enough, the longest game of 2013 both in terms of innings (13) and time (4 hours, 17 minutes) culminated only after a false start from a pivotal player whose season was forecast with great anticipation, began with enormous disappointment and, finally in recent weeks, has come to a revival.

First, Mike Moustakas crunched a ball that appeared on track for a walk-off home run that ultimately hooked hard right of the foul pole.

“I got a little too out in front of it,” he said.

So no way he was going to hit one after that, as manager Ned Yost knew in the dugout.

Yost turned to Eric Hosmer and said, “Why is fate tempting us right here? Why does it test us like this? Why?”

He added, “I can’t remember one time I’ve seen anybody back it up and hit one fair.”

Rare as it might be, in Royals lore it happened memorably enough in game seven of the 1985 World Series when Darryl Motley swatted one foul and immediately followed up with a homer.

And on an 0-2 pitch, Moustakas followed suit.

“It was like, ‘Wow, pretty special,’” Yost said.

Moustakas reckoned he had done that before, but he believed it was the first time he’d ever hit a walk-off homer.

Not a bad time to pull that off.

“It was pretty special,” Moustakas said, “especially in the race we’re in right now.”

Or as Billy Butler put it: “Who knows how long the game would have went?”

And who knows how much a loss would have taken out of them entering a 12-game stretch that begins today against Detroit? It’s a sequence that will go a long way toward being the signature of their season.

“We looked at this a month ago and said, ‘OK, if we’re in good shape when we get to this point of the season, this is going to be real interesting here over these next 12 games,’” Yost said.

And they are in pretty good shape at 73-67, their fifth-most wins in 20 years … with 22 games left to play and lurking 5 games out of the second wild-card berth pending play Thursday night.

So what if it didn’t look like they’d be in such good shape the way the day started? With the Royals, things are ever-changing.

An afternoon after a distressing setback Wednesday night against a flailing Seattle team that has nothing to play for, a Royals team still in control of its own prospects of making the playoffs for the first time since 1985 meandered into a 5-0 deficit.

A lack of intensity seemed obvious.

And then, hmm, they cut it to 5-3.

And then, wow, the resilient team that wouldn’t be beaten took a 6-5 lead.

And then the impregnable Greg Holland was taking the mound for what surely would be, ho-hum, his 32nd straight save and 18th straight appearance without surrendering a run.

Naturally, Raul Ibañez then smashed a home run to tie it 6-6 and send it into extra innings.

Deflating as it might have been, though, it was just the Royals taking you down to build you back up.

“We’re a never-quit team, a never-say-die team,” Moustakas said. “We’ve been doing it all year long.”

And stoked by Moustakas, who epitomizes the franchise’s investment and faith in its young position players despite his ups and downs, just maybe they came of age some more on Thursday.

At least enough to stay tuned for whatever’s to come.

To reach Vahe Gregorian, call 816-234-4868 or send email to vgregorian@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @vgregorian. For previous columns, go to KansasCity.com.

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