Once again, my brother Tom flew in (this time commercial, not in his own plane) to join me for some baseball fun. Our hosts, Josh Sturgis and his wife Andrea, started the outing with a visit to Char Bar for another barbecue experience (when I was here recently, I sampled the delights at Okie Joe’s, Jack Stack and R. J.’s, so no slight to them is meant by our barbecue destinations on this trip). I can report that Burnt Heaven, a sandwich with burnt ends, sausage, fried jalapeños and slaw is first rate. LIkewise the wings. The sauce on the wings was piquant and nearly perfect and their regular sauce carries a bit of heat, also delicious.
Then off to Kauffman Stadium, or “The K” as it is affectionately known here, perhaps the oldest new-style stadium in the majors, and of course home to the reigning world champions.
Our first stop was the Royals museum for a movie about their World Series victory and look at the trophy.
As you might imagine, that victory in 2015 bolstered the previously beleaguered Royals fans who had gone 30 years without such a win (let’s see, have the Mariners ever even been to the World Series?). So on a Monday night in the midst of a midwestern heat wave, we were joined by more than 38,000 of the faithful for what promised to be a pitchers duel between Cleveland’s Cy Young award winner, Cory Kluber and one KC’s finest, Edinson Volquez.
Volquez started well, striking out the first two Indians with just six pitches. But then up-and-comer Francisco Lindor hit a solo home run, and the Indians later scratched out another run to make it 2-0 for most of the game. Until the bottom of the 8th, that is. That’s when the Royals put their first two men on. Due up, Kendrys Morales, their DH, who in his previous at bat had reverted to his Mariners form by striking out (one of which was a foul ball off his foot). Manager Yost used that as the reason for calling on pinch hitter Christian Colon, a right handed batter, to face a right handed pitcher. Clearly a bunt situation, which he attempted twice, but when the count went to 2-0, he fooled them by swinging away and hit a would-be triple into left center, scoring two to tie the game. Unfortunately, he was thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple, thus violating one of the cardinal rules of baseball by making the first out at third (especially egregious here because he would have been on second with no outs and cleanup man Salvador Perez coming up). But the Royals did manage to score another run to take the lead before the Royals loaded the bases for 9 hole man Jarrod Dyson, their speedster replacement for Lorenzo Cain, who is on the DL. To everyone’s surprise, probably including his own, Dyson took the first pitch he saw right out of the park to put the game on ice (he had hit only 7 home runs in over 1,300 at bats previously and never a grand slam).
Speaking of triples, Dyson hit one on his first at bat and like most triples, it was a thing of beauty. I haven’t looked up the stats, but I think it rarer than the home run and sluggers don’t often hit triples. Interestingly, the Royals Cheslor Cuthbert (a Triple A replacement for Mike Moustakas at third and a defensive wizard) hit one earlier and was thrown out on a very close play, confirmed after review (so really it was a double).