Royals fans can only hope that outfielder Melky Cabrera 2.0 is as good as the first version.
Cabrera is returning to the Royals, who acquired him in a trade Sunday with the Chicago White Sox. His first time with the Royals was in 2011, and there is nothing memorable about Royals’ 71-91 record that year.
However, Cabrera had a fantastic season, with a triple slash line of .305/.339/.470, and he collected 44 doubles, 18 home runs and 20 stolen bases while scoring 102 runs.
Here are seven of his top moments from that 2011 season:
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Walk-off single beats Indians, April 21
The Royals trailed 2-1 in the ninth, but Kila Ka’aihue opened the inning with a double. Pinch runner Mike Aviles took third when Mitch Maier singled, but Aviles was cut down at home when he tried to score on Alcides Escobar’s grounder to third. But Chris Getz walked and loaded the bases. Cabrera followed with a two-run single to left and made a winner of Aaron Crow.
“All I was thinking about was trying to hit a sacrifice fly to tie the ballgame,” Cabrera said through an interpreter after the game. “Thank God I was able to get that line-drive base hit.”
A four RBI game, May 5
The Royals rolled over the Orioles and Cabrera had a heck of a game: three hits, three runs scored, four RBIs and a home run.
“It feels good because I contributed,” Cabrera said afterward, “but there were other players who played their part. Everybody contributed offensively. The first inning was impressive, as was the way Bruce Chen pitched.”
A home run in the 14th inning, May 27
The Royals looked destined to lose a sixth straight game as they trailed the Rangers in Arlington, Texas. But Alex Gordon tied the score in the ninth with a homer. In the 14th, Cabrera and first baseman Eric Hosmer hit back-to-back homers and the Royals took the lead. Later in the inning, Brayan Peña hit a home run and the Royals won 12-7.
Grand slam, July 29
The Royals routed the Indians 12-0 in Cleveland, and Cabrera had a the biggest hit: a grand slam in the fourth inning against Carlos Carrasco. That made it 7-0, and Cabrera admired his shot before rounding. This didn’t please Carrasco, who threw a pitch at the head of the next batter: Billy Butler. That led to the dugouts emptying and an ejection for Carrasco.
“Be a man,” left fielder Alex Gordon said afterward. “Throw at his back. Not his head.”
Five RBI game, Aug. 10
This game was memorable for a variety of reasons. First the good. Cabrera had five RBIs against the Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla., including a double against Tampa Bay starter Wade Davis. Cabrera hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning that staked the Royals to a 7-3 lead. But then came the bad: Although Greg Holland got credit for a hold, Crow and Joakim Soria coughed up the lead in the ninth inning, and the Rays got a walk-off 8-7 win.
One other good thing: Royals rookie Salvador Perez made his major-league debut and went 1 for 3 with a run scored and an RBI. He also picked off a runner at first and at third base.
Four-hit game, Sept. 15
The Royals pounded out 16 hits in a 7-2 win over the White Sox at Kauffman Stadium in support of starter Jeff Francis. Cabrera had four hits in the game, including a home run in the first inning. It was the second four-hit game of the season for Cabrera, but the other came in 14 innings in Boston in July.
200th hit of season, Sept. 26
It wasn’t the most impressive hit of the season, but Cabrera got the 200th of the 2011 season on a slow grounder to short in the first inning against the Twins at Target Field.
“It all goes back to the opportunity they gave me here,” Cabrera said afterward. “That’s why I’m thankful to the Royals’ organization; especially Ned (Yost), for giving me the opportunity to play every day.”