Moustakas Powers Surging Royals Past Arizona, 4-3

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Is Mike Moustakas fixed?

Here’s a better question – are the Royals fixed?

Moustakas provided all of the offense, Yordano Ventura did his job and the bullpen was nails yet again as Kansas City downed Arizona 4-3. The Royals won their fifth consecutive series, continuing to achieve success that seemed next to impossible just two weeks ago.

The club won their sixth straight road interleague game, which established a new team record. The Royals are now 10-4 in interleague games after posting a 9-11 record in those contests a season ago.

One night after the power bats exploded for three home runs, Moustakas lined a two-run dinger just over the right field wall to open the scoring in the second inning. Josh Collmenter fell behind in the count, and Moustakas made him pay by clobbering the hanging changeup. It was the team-leading 14th long ball of the season for the Royals’ third baseman, who tied his RBI mark of 42 from a season ago.

In the fourth inning, Moustakas struck again. Right after Kansas City saw their lead evaporate, back to back walks by Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain brought Moustakas to the plate. He promptly lined a shift-beating single into right field, scoring Gordon to take a 3-2 lead on the two-out rally. The score would stand still until the ninth inning, when Moustakas produced yet another RBI on a groundout that scored Billy Butler. The play was originally called an inning-ending double play, but Ned Yost wasted no time in asking for a replay, and the call was overturned. The insurance run would wind up being the difference in the game.

As for Ventura (9-8), he wasn’t at his best, but he managed to work out of messes all night long to earn his ninth win of the season. He notched a quality start, scattering eight hits while surrendering two runs over six innings of work. Both of Arizona’s runs were scored in the third inning via RBI singles by Aaron Hill and Daniel Peralta. He notched eight strikeouts and only walked one.

Following Ventura’s departure, Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis worked around baserunners to escape the seventh and eighth unscathed. Greg Holland entered with a two-run cushion, but quickly got into trouble when he put runners on the corners with just one out for the power-hitting Mark Trumbo. Holland hung a slider and Trumbo connected, only he didn’t quite barrel it. The roaring crowd was let down when the ball died just short of the left field warning track for the inning’s second out, though it did produce a run via sac fly. After that, Holland struck out Andy Marte to end the game with a wicked slider. He earned his AL-leading 32nd save, which was also the 99th conversion of his career.

After losing four in a row to start the season’s second half, the Royals have won 11 of their last 14 games. They have climbed all the way back to a half-game behind Toronto for the second Wild Card spot. Partnered with Detroit’s loss at Yankee Stadium, Kansas City also climbed to just 3.5 games out of first place in the AL Central.

On July 19, 2013, just hours before his team began their post-All Star break slate of games, Dayton Moore proclaimed that his 45-52 Royals were still in the mix. He claimed that they were capable of winning 15 of their next 20, and that’s exactly what they did. Their second-half surge came up short of a playoff spot, and the players told themselves that they’d start earlier in 2014.

This season, despite limping into the All Star break yet again, Moore remained confident in the squad he assembled. He had similar remarks, insisting that Kansas City was “just a good stretch” away from being right back in contention. He was right – again. When fans didn’t believe in this team, Moore did – and they’re making him look smarter by the day.

This is the same roster that got swept in Boston for one of the ugliest series in recent Royals memory. Fans had no reason to be confident that they would climb right back in the playoff hunt – but that’s exactly what they’ve done. A lot of words could be used to describe the 2014 Royals, but few seem more truthful at this point than “resilient.” Some fans refer to this as the organization’s way of “teasing” – right when you think they’re done, they’ll suck you right back in.

Maybe Dayton Moore is actually really smart. Maybe it took them awhile to pull their head out of their (butts). Maybe it’s Sung Woo. Who knows – but honestly, who cares at this point? Fans have waited 29 years for a playoff berth from the Royals. On August 7th, they’re 0.5 games out. I didn’t forget a one or a two in front of that number – they’re actually less than a game out. I even checked on ESPN just to be sure.

They’re in it. That’s what we wanted. We didn’t want this complicated, eight-year process (and I still am not happy about that, by the way), but if it winds up working and the Royals make the playoffs in 2014, will anybody really care? Ask them that on the day the playoffs begin. If they say yes, they’re lying. Every single one of them.

As I always say, enjoy the ride. As this team is prone to do, we have no idea if another 3-10 stretch is right around the corner. On the bright side, though, we also have no idea if another 10-3 stretch is right around the corner. That’s why we call it the Royal Coaster.

By the way – Ned Yost won his 800th career game as a manager on Wednesday night, becoming the 75th skipper in MLB history to surpass that milestone. #Yosted

Next: The Royals will go for the sweep tomorrow when Jeremy Guthrie (7-9, 4.50 ERA) takes on Vidal Nuno (2-7, 4.78). The Royals have not swept an opponent since a three game set in Chicago from June 13-15.

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Author: Ryan Landreth

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