After the Royals mustered only three hits in the first seven innings Tuesday night against Pirates starter and National League All-Star Gerrit Cole, Jarrod Dyson’s two-run single in the bottom of the eighth proved to be the deciding runs in the Royals’ 3-1 victory over Pittsburgh.
The base knock caused the sellout crowd of 38,163 at Kauffman Stadium to explode and chased Cole from the ballgame.
“The approach off that guy is just try to scratch and claw right there,” Dyson said. “Any time we can get some runs with the pitching we have, there’s always a great chance we can come out with a victory.”
With one out in the bottom of the eighth and the game still scoreless, Omar Infante hit a grounder through the legs of Pirates’ second baseman Neil Walker. Then, Alex Rios singled to center field and Infante advanced to third with Rios trailing him to second, setting up two runners in scoring position for Dyson.
With the infield in on the grass, Dyson delivered, sitting on a fastball dunking a bloop single into shallow right field.
“I wanted something up in the zone. I didn’t want to hit a ground ball right there,” Dyson said. “I just wanted to get the ball in the outfield any way I could.”
Dyson’s bat broke, but for a valiant cause, he said.
“It went to bat heaven,” he said.
Then it was time for Dyson to use his legs to get more insurance for closer Greg Holland, which proved to be pivotal since Holland allowed a run and loaded the bases in the ninth before getting Gregory Polanco to strikeout.
On Dyson’s hit, Polanco didn’t field it cleanly and Dyson scooted to second, then stole third with Alcides Escobar at the plate. That forced the infield in once again, and this time, Escobar poked a single through the right side off reliever Arquimedes Caminero to increase the Royals’ lead to 3-0.
“I just want to play, man. That’s been my theory since I got here,” Dyson said. “I just want to feel like I’m part of the team and help the team win. That’s my job.”
Since Alex Gordon suffered a groin strain on July 9, the production of the Dyson and Paulo Orlando left-field platoon doesn’t jump off the page. They’re a combined 9-37 but the hits have come when the game is in the balance, and the Royals are 8-3 in Gordon’s absence.
Orlando hit the go-ahead home run against White Sox ace Chris Sale last week, and Dyson was the hero Tuesday night.
“Both guys have played great defense,” Yost said. “Both guys have gotten clutch hits.
“They’ve been key base hits in key situations to help us win ballgames. Again, when Gordy went down, we felt like we had depth to cover it and so far we have.”
Yost happy with Rios’ bat
Despite his early season woes and bouts recovering from a broken hand that sidelined him for six weeks, Rios is regaining his form at the plate, much to the delight of Ned Yost.
Since July 4, Rios is hitting .340 with five doubles. In that span, he’s raised his batting average 37 points, from .219 to .256.
“He’s got his average up ... really swinging the bat well for us, playing really, really well,” Yost said. “It took him a little while to get back on track after the broken hand, but it sure looks like he’s there now.”