KANSAS CITY— The Royals can almost taste that champagne.
It can happen as soon as Thursday night following a 4-3 walk-off win in 10 innings over the Mariners on Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium.
Would that please Lorenzo Cain?
“That would be nice,” Cain said, smiling. “Don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but champagne would be nice.”
The Royals inched closer to a celebration after Cain’s one-out single to right field in the bottom of the 10th, scoring Paulo Orlando from second base. That victory trimmed the Royals’ magic number to clinch the American League Central to 2.
Cain, who had three hits, drove a liner to right field just over second baseman Robinson Cano’s head. Orlando held briefly to make sure the liner got through, then third-base coach Mike Jirschele waved Orlando home. The rookie just beat the throw with a headfirst slide.
“I was just trying to get something up the middle,” Cain said of his approach. “I’d been trying to work the middle all night. Got a slider down and away. I put a good swing on it, drove it to right field and Paulo made a great slide.
“I didn’t think he’d make it at first. I thought Jirsch was going to hold him up because he paused to make sure it was down. He ended up making it and we go home winners.”
Manager Ned Yost had inserted Orlando as a pinch-runner for Alex Gordon, who broke an 0-for-22 skid with a one-out single in the 10th.
“[Jirschele] had to make an aggressive send because Paulo broke back to the bag on the ball, which is a tough read on a low line drive,” Yost said. “But his speed overcame it. It was a bang-bang play at the plate, but it was because of Paulo’s speed that he scored that run.”
And the Royals got a big come-from-behind win.
“They are all special,” Cain said. “We’ve played solid baseball all year long. We’ve definitely had a rough September. Got a big win tonight. Just got to keep it rolling. Stay focused.”