DETROIT (AP) — Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost’s hunch paid off.
Willie Bloomquist’s one-out home run in the 12th inning gave the Kansas City Royals a 4-3 win over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday.
Yost inserted Bloomqust, a veteran utility man, into the third spot in the Royals order in an attempt to spark the team’s offense, which had only managed seven runs in the previous three games.
Yost guaranteed reporters before the game that Bloomquist would get “a couple of hits”.
The game-winning homer, which came on a 3-2 pitch from loser Alfredo Figaro (0-1), made Bloomquist 2-for-6. It was the first time Bloomquist has batted third on his nine-season career.
“Crazy,” said Bloomquist as he nodded his head after the game. “Who knew?”
It was his third home run of the season and only the 13th of his career. But he knew it was gone when he hit it.
“I don’t hit too many, but I thought I got all of it,” Bloomquist said. “That’s probably as far as I can hit a ball.”
Bloomquist, who plays all three outfield and all four infield positions, was stationed at third on Wednesday and started a key double play on Gerald Laird’s grounder with one out and runners on first and second in the 11th.
“I have a hard time thinking of two other players that are as good as Willie at that position, where you can play him anywhere and feel comfortable as if you had your starter out there,” Yost said. “Third, short, second, left, right, center, first base. He knows how to play the game. He knows how to hit. He knows when to take advantage of situations. I just think he’s a great player for what he does.”
Kansas City, which also got a homer and two RBIs from Kila Ka’aihue, rallied from a 3-0 deficit to snap Detroit’s five-game winning streak and avoided being swept in the three-game series.
Phillip Humber (1-0), who pitched three innings of scoreless relief, got the win for the Royals and Joakim Soria got his 36th save in 38 chances.
“The first couple of games here we got it handed to us,” Humber said. “And we were down today. But we came back and won.”
Alfredo Figaro (0-1) surrendered Bloomquist’s home run and took the loss.
“It was a game that we had in hand, we just let it get away,” Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland said.
Ka’aihue’s homer off Detroit starter Armando Galarraga leading off the seventh made it 3-1. It was the second straight game that Kai’aihue has homered.
Ryan Perry allowed Mike Aviles’ leadoff single in the eighth before getting the next two batters. Tigers’ closer Jose Valverde replaced Perry and, after Aviles stole second, gave up Ka’aihue’s run-scoring double into the right-field corner. Brayan Pena followed with a double over Austin Jackson’s head to tie the game at 3.
Valverde’s streak of 24 consecutive save opportunities converted was snapped.
Detroit took a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Santiago’s two-run triple with one out scored Brennan Boesch and Ryan Raburn. Boesch led off with a double and Raburn singled. Santiago scored when Gerald Laird followed with a RBI double.
Galarraga allowed a run on five hits in 6 1-3 innings, walking two and striking out four.
Royals’ starter Sean O’Sullivan gave up three runs on seven hits in seven innings. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out one.