Royals

Injury to Brett Eibner overshadows Royals’ 10-5 win over Rays

Eric Hosmer on Royals' win, Brett Eibner's injury

Eric Hosmer discusses the Royals' 10-5 win against the Tampa Bay Rays, which was soured by an injury to Brett Eibner.
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Eric Hosmer discusses the Royals' 10-5 win against the Tampa Bay Rays, which was soured by an injury to Brett Eibner.

They had gathered in deep left field, the remnants of a defending World Series champions, the remaining core of a team beset by injury.

Eric Hosmer had traversed 270 feet from his position at first base. Paulo Orlando had jogged over from right field. Lorenzo Cain stood on the edge of the pack, his hat removed, staring at the latest Royal to lay in pain on the Kauffman Stadium turf.

“We wanted to go see what happened,” second baseman Whit Merrifield said after the game.

It was the top of the fifth inning on Tuesday night. The Royals were cruising to a 10-5 decision over the Tampa Bay Rays. A baseball team-turned-freight train was rolling to a fifth straight win and a sixth straight series victory.

Yet the blistering performance was secondary. Before the throng of Royals lie rookie outfielder Brett Eibner, writhing on the ground after coming up lame on a play near the wall. As head trainer Nick Kenney crouched and felt the area around Eibner’s left ankle, a green cart emerged from the right-field bullpen and sped across the field.

“You don't know what's going on,” Hosmer said. “So as a team, you just go out and see what's going on.”

Four days earlier, Eibner, 27, had made his major-league debut after six years and 541 games in the minor leagues. He had marked the night with a double in a victory over the Chicago White Sox. The next day, he had notched a bases-loaded, walk-off single in an epic seven-run comeback in the bottom of the ninth. Tuesday night, he was the latest Royal to appear on the injury report, suffering a left lateral ankle sprain, according to the initial diagnosis from the team.

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In the moments after the victory, Eibner appeared in the home clubhouse, wearing a walking boot on his left foot. A collection of Royals executives gathered in a back office, pondering a roster move.

Eibner probably is headed for the disabled list, manager Ned Yost said, but the severity of the injury is still unknown. Eibner is slated to undergo an MRI in the next 24 hours.

“It’s early in the process,” Yost said. “I don’t have any idea where we’re at, but we’re hoping it’s a sprain. But the MRI will tell us more tomorrow.”

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The play at the heart of Tuesday night occurred in the top of the fifth. Eibner had raced back toward left-center field on a deep drive from the bat of Tampa Bay shortstop Brad Miller. The baseball banged off the wall, and Eibner retrieved it before pulling up lame and going to the ground. He did not collide with a teammate. He did not hit the wall. He did appear in pain.

“His foot just gave out on him,” said Yost, who had not seen the replay.

Eibner flipped the baseball to Cain as he hopped onto his right foot and fell to the grass. He was carted off after spending close to three minutes on the ground. The moment shook a clubhouse that had seen three All-Stars go down in a seven-day span earlier in May.

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“When someone goes down like that, and you see him lying on the ground and can't get up, you're extremely worried,” Hosmer said.

The injury marred what otherwise was a dominating night.

Cain finished 2 for 4, drilling a two-run homer in the first inning. Hosmer racked up three hits and raised his season batting average to .330. Whit Merrifield finished 2 for 5, raising his average to .356 and extending a club record by getting a hit in his first 10 career starts. Another bonus: Designated hitter Kendrys Morales, mired in a season-long slump, crushed a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth, turning the night into a bona fide rout.

Which leads to the great mystery of this Kansas City stretch: As the injuries have piled up, the offense has only gotten hotter.

“We’ve continued to grind through it, but it’s a lot of guys,” Hosmer said of the number of injuries. “It’s something we really haven’t gone through before in the past, but it’s just another obstacle we’ve got to overcome this year.”

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The Royals offense battered Rays starter Drew Smyly for eight runs in four innings, including five in a long rally in the fourth. The output was enough for Royals right-hander Dillon Gee, who allowed four runs in five innings in his fourth start of the season.

Gee needed 102 pitches to navigate 15 outs, and in the sixth inning, Yost summoned right-hander Chris Young, who tossed three scoreless innings while making his second appearance since returning from the disabled list.

As the Royals, 29-22, finished the month of May, they remained in first place in the American League Central, stretching their lead to two full games over the White Sox and the Cleveland Indians. They can complete a perfect 6-0 homestand with a victory against the Rays on Wednesday night.

But for another night, the focus was on the health status of another Royals player, this one a rookie who was called up after injuries to Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas earlier this month.

In less than two weeks, Kansas City has lost Gordon for a month with a broken scaphoid bone in his wrist. It has lost Moustakas for the season to a torn ACL. For the seven days or so, the Royals must move forward with Salvador Perez on the bench with a bruised quadriceps muscle.

For now, the club soldiers on. After sitting at 17-19 in mid-May, the Royals are just one game off their 2015 pace through 51 games.

Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas suffered a torn ACL in a collision with left fielder Alex Gordon, and the results are analyzed by Sam Mellinger and Rustin Dodd of he Kansas City Star.

“I feel like whatever happens, we’re gonna cover it because that’s what you have to do,” Yost said. “If you want to continue to compete, if you want to continue to play at a championship level, you got to cover it, somehow. So I don’t worry about it.”

Enter Eibner, who joined the fray last week after a long, injury-prone journey through the minor leagues. For three days, his big-league debut felt like a dream, three days of comebacks and hits against the White Sox. On Tuesday, he recorded another hit and raised his average to .462 in four games.

Now his future status is less certain. The Royals won another baseball game. They may have lost another player in the process.

“I think getting out there and kind of seeing his expressions and seeing his face, (it) definitely didn't look as bad,” Hosmer said. “But like I said, we just gotta wait.”

Tuesday’s summary

Royals 10, Rays 5

Tampa Bay

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Guyer lf

5

0

0

0

0

3

.288

Miller ss

5

1

3

0

0

1

.245

Longoria 3b

5

1

3

1

0

1

.264

Pearce 2b

2

0

0

0

0

0

.298

a-Motter ph-2b

2

0

0

0

1

0

.192

Morrison 1b

4

1

2

0

1

2

.239

Souza Jr. rf

4

1

3

0

1

1

.269

Dickerson dh

5

1

2

4

0

2

.204

Mahtook cf

5

0

0

0

0

3

.048

Casali c

3

0

0

0

2

1

.155

Totals

40

5

13

5

5

14

 

Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Escobar ss

4

0

1

0

0

0

.267

Merrifield 2b

5

2

2

0

0

0

.356

Cain cf

4

2

2

4

1

0

.295

Hosmer 1b

5

2

3

2

0

1

.330

Morales dh

5

1

2

3

0

1

.193

Orlando rf

4

0

1

0

0

0

.376

Eibner lf

2

1

1

0

0

1

.462

Dyson lf

2

0

1

0

1

0

.272

Cuthbert 3b

5

1

2

0

0

2

.253

Butera c

3

1

3

1

1

0

.321

Totals

39

10

18

10

3

5

 

Tampa Bay

030

010

001

5

13

0

Kansas City

201

502

00x

10

18

0

a-out on fielder’s choice for Pearce in the 5th.

LOB: Tampa Bay 13, Kansas City 10. 2B: Miller (9), Longoria 2 (15), Merrifield (5), Hosmer (12), Eibner (3), Butera (5). 3B: Miller (4). HR: Dickerson (9), off Gee; Cain (8), off Smyly; Morales (6), off Boxberger. RBIs: Longoria (26), Dickerson 4 (24), Cain 4 (33), Hosmer 2 (35), Morales 3 (21), Butera (4). SB: Merrifield (2). S: Escobar.

Runners left in scoring position: Tampa Bay 8 (Guyer, Longoria, Pearce, Morrison, Dickerson, Mahtook, Casali 2); Kansas City 4 (Hosmer, Orlando, Cuthbert 2). RISP: Tampa Bay 3 for 17; Kansas City 7 for 15. Runners moved up: Longoria, Dyson. GIDP: Cuthbert. DP: Tampa Bay 1 (Sturdevant, Miller, Morrison).

Tampa Bay

IP

H

R

ER

W

K

ERA

Smyly L, 2-7

4

12

8

8

0

3

4.77

Sturdevant

1

2

0

0

0

0

3.00

Boxberger

0.2

2

2

2

1

0

27.00

Eveland

1.1

1

0

0

1

1

6.75

Garton

1

1

0

0

0

1

7.36

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

W

K

ERA

Gee W, 2-2

5

9

4

4

1

7

4.28

Young

3

2

0

0

2

5

5.94

Alexander

0.1

2

1

1

2

1

2.61

Davis S, 15

0.2

0

0

0

0

1

0.93

Inherited runners-scored: Davis 3-0. IBB: off Smyly (Cain). HBP: Boxberger (Orlando), Alexander (Longoria). WP: Gee, Smyly.

Umpires: Home, Bob Davidson; First, Lance Barrett; Second, Dan Lassogna; Third, Dale Scott. Time: 3:27. Att: 26,006.

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