Royals

As Eric Hosmer returns home, Royals stretch winning streak to nine with 1-0 victory over Marlins

In his first pro game back in his native south Florida, Eric Hosmer finished 0 for 3 with a walk and left two men left on base. By the end, he got exactly what he wanted: a 1-0 Royals victory over the Miami Marlins, Kansas City’s ninth straight win.
In his first pro game back in his native south Florida, Eric Hosmer finished 0 for 3 with a walk and left two men left on base. By the end, he got exactly what he wanted: a 1-0 Royals victory over the Miami Marlins, Kansas City’s ninth straight win. The Associated Press

On Tuesday afternoon, on his way to Marlins Park, Eric Hosmer peered at the high-rises that dot the Miami downtown skyline and considered the length of his journey.

When he was a boy, growing up between Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Miami, the Royals’ first baseman would make a similar drive with his parents. Mike and Ileana Hosmer would be in the front seat, and Hosmer and older brother Mikey would be in the back. Together they would weave through the highways of south Florida, driving to Sun Life Stadium, the old home of the Florida Marlins.

If they arrived early enough, Hosmer would make it a point to watch batting practice. Sometimes, he said, he would pick out one player, following him with his eyes as he shagged baseballs in the Miami heat.

Some day, he thought then, that’s going to be me.

“It’s kind of what inspired and started it all,” Hosmer said.

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All these years later, Hosmer returned home Tuesday and played his first professional game in the city that sparked his imagination. With close to 50 to 60 friends and family in attendance, he finished 0 for 3 with a walk and left two men on base. And by the end, the night offered exactly what he wanted.

On the first night of a six-game road trip, the Royals edged the Miami Marlins 1-0 in front of a somewhat demure crowd of 18,513. As starter Yordano Ventura took the baton and tossed six scoreless innings, Kansas City, 65-60, roared onward, pushing its winning streak to nine games and improving to 14-2 since Aug. 6.

“We’re caught up in the moment right now,” Hosmer said.

On Tuesday, the moment meant another terrific effort from a starting pitcher and another lock-down night from the bullpen. When the deed was done, the Royals’ relief corps had added another three scoreless innings to the ledger and set a franchise record in the process. According to Elias, the bullpen’s run of 32 straight scoreless frames eclipsed the previous record of 29  2/3 set in 1969.

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Rookie southpaw Matt Strahm struck out two during a scoreless seventh, running his streak of scoreless innings to nine. Joakim Soria worked his ninth straight clean appearance in the eighth. Kelvin Herrera notched his eighth save in the ninth.

“Strahm, Soria and Herrera,” Royals manager Ned Yost said, reciting the unlikely formula that has been so potent in recent weeks.

With Ventura posting the latest gem by a Royals starter, the offense needed to provide just one run. Center fielder Lorenzo Cain broke a scoreless tie in the top of the sixth, lacing an RBI single to center field off Marlins starter Andrew Cashner. With Paulo Orlando standing on second base, Cain whacked a 3-0 pitch into center field.

According to Cain, it was just the second time in his career that he had swung at a 3-0 pitch.

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“I originally wasn’t going to swing,” Cain said. “And then I looked at (third base coach Mike Jirschele), and he pointed up, and once I turned around and got in the box, I said, ‘Hell with it.’ 

That, perhaps more than any other statement, can sum up these last three weeks. Once left for dead at 51-58, once enveloped by a July fog, the Royals have surged back into playoff contention, moving like Katie Ledecky in a distance freestyle.

They have pitched well and hit enough and played tremendous defense, finally resembling the team that ravaged the American League in 2015, the team that finished with 95 wins before claiming the franchise’s second World Series championship.

On Tuesday, as Hosmer and third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert awoke with their shoulders sunburned after a relaxing boat excursion on Monday, the Royals sat just four games out of the second wild card spot and eight games out of first place in the American League Central. Royals general manager Dayton Moore and a collection of team executives joined the team in Miami, ready to watch the awakening up close.

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“This is the team that we are,” said Ventura, who finished with six strikeouts and one walk while lowering his ERA to 2.03 in August. “The team you’re seeing is the team that we are.”

In the moments after the game, Moore pushed through the bowels of Marlins Park and entered the clubhouse as music blared. The latest version of the Rally Mantis sat in a clear cage on a coffee table in the middle of the room. Hosmer emerged from a back room, victorious in his return home.

In some ways, it was an important victory. The Royals did not pick up much ground in the standings — Baltimore, Boston and Detroit all won — but they did keep pace. And with Marlins ace Jose Fernandez set to face right-hander Dillon Gee on Wednesday, a victory on Tuesday set the tone for the road trip.

For another night, a winning streak lived.

“We feel good,” Cain said. “But at the same time, we know we got to go out there and score more runs. We’re definitely confident right now. But we’re just trying to take it one day at a time and hopefully get back to where we want to be.”

Royals 1, Marlins 0

Royals

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Orlando cf

3

1

1

0

1

1

.317

Cuthbert 3b

4

0

1

0

0

1

.292

Cain rf

4

0

2

1

0

2

.295

Hosmer 1b

3

0

0

0

1

0

.275

Perez c

4

0

0

0

0

0

.254

A.Gordon lf

4

0

1

0

0

1

.225

Escobar ss

4

0

1

0

0

0

.259

Mondesi 2b

3

0

0

0

1

0

.195

Ventura p

2

0

0

0

0

2

.333

a-Morales ph

1

0

0

0

0

1

.244

Strahm p

0

0

0

0

0

0

---

Soria p

0

0

0

0

0

0

---

Herrera p

0

0

0

0

0

0

---

Totals

32

1

6

1

3

8

 

Miami

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

D.Gordon 2b

4

0

3

0

0

1

.289

Prado 3b

3

0

1

0

1

0

.320

Yelich lf-cf

3

0

0

0

1

1

.312

Ozuna cf

3

0

1

0

0

0

.277

Andino lf

1

0

0

0

0

0

.308

Realmuto c

4

0

1

0

0

2

.310

Suzuki rf

4

0

0

0

0

0

.303

Scruggs 1b

3

0

1

0

0

1

.250

Barraclough p

0

0

0

0

0

0

.000

Ramos p

0

0

0

0

0

0

---

b-Arcia ph

1

0

0

0

0

0

.000

Hechavarria ss

4

0

0

0

0

3

.245

Cashner p

2

0

0

0

0

1

.000

Dunn p

0

0

0

0

0

0

---

Johnson 1b

1

0

0

0

0

1

.230

Totals

33

0

7

0

2

10

 

Kansas City

000

001

000

1

6

0

Miami

000

000

000

0

7

0

a-struck out for Ventura in the 7th. b-grounded out for Ramos in the 9th.

LOB: Kansas City 7, Miami 8. 2B: Ozuna (21). RBIs: Cain (52). SB: Orlando (11). CS: Cain (5), D.Gordon (6).

Runners left in scoring position: Kansas City 2 (Orlando, A.Gordon); Miami 6 (Ozuna 3, Realmuto, Scruggs, Cashner). RISP: Kansas City 1 for 6; Miami 0 for 10. Runners moved up: Hosmer, Prado, Realmuto, Yelich.

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

W

K

NP

ERA

Ventura W, 9-9

6

6

0

0

1

6

96

4.27

Strahm

1

1

0

0

0

2

16

0.96

Soria

1

0

0

0

1

1

21

3.81

Herrera S, 8

1

0

0

0

0

1

14

1.91

Miami

IP

H

R

ER

W

K

NP

ERA

Cashner L, 4-10

6

4

1

1

2

4

92

4.61

Dunn

 1/3

1

0

0

1

0

8

2.79

Barraclough

1 2/3

0

0

0

0

4

25

2.93

Ramos

1

1

0

0

0

0

11

2.91

Holds: Soria (16), Strahm (3). Inherited runners-scored: Barraclough 2-0.

Umpires: Home, Chad Fairchild; First, James Hoye; Second, Marvin Hudson; Third, Manny Gonzalez. Time: 2:50. Att: 18,513.

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