Kansas City, Mo. The bullpen phone quit working at just the wrong time. The bat boy unwittingly caused a power hitter to lay down a bunt in an RBI situation.
Then in a shaky ninth inning they had an error, a hit batsman and a bases-loaded walk.
“And still we won a ballgame,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost exclaimed Tuesday night after the Royals held on for a wild 5-4 victory over Cleveland.
The long-woeful and perhaps lucky Royals crept within one game of the surprising Indians in the AL Central with the help of Bruce Chen’s strong pitching and Alex Gordon’s strong everything.
Chen (3-0) went seven innings and beat the Indians for the fourth straight time, stretching his personal winning streak, dating to last season, to seven games over 11 starts. Jeanmar Gomez (0-1), making his first major league start after being called up from Triple-A Columbus earlier in the day, took the loss on a night when the wind chill hovered near 30 degrees.
Gordon stole two bases, scored a run, had two hits, threw out a runner at the plate and made a terrific diving catch in left field of Grady Sizemore’s sinking liner in the ninth.
“Gordon pretty much saved the game on that very nice play on Sizemore down the left-field line,” Cleveland manager Manny Acta said.
Chen cruised into the seventh with a two-hitter and a 5-0 lead, and hadn’t allowed an earned run in 20 innings. But then his stuff flattened out, and things got strange.
After Orlando Cabrera singled for the first hit of the inning, Yost grabbed the bullpen phone to tell Blake Wood to get ready.
“But the phones went on the blink,” Yost said. “So we had no communication to our bullpen.”
A tired Chen kept throwing. The energized Indians kept hitting. Austin Kearns singled. Lou Marson hit a two-run double.
“Bruce gives up another hit, and we’re trying to get Woody up, and we can’t,” Yost said.
Finally, it was Kansas City’s finest to the rescue. The uniformed police officer near the Royals dugout used his hand-held communication device to call the officer in the bullpen and tell him to tell Wood to get ready.
In the KC eighth with a runner on base and nobody out, Kila Ka’aihue laid down a bunt that probably puzzled every fan in the stands.
Turns out the bat boy ran between Yost and third base coach Eddie Rodriguez just as Yost was going through his signs.
Ka’aihue, to his credit, did get the sacrifice bunt down. But the runner was stranded, and the Royals had to sweat the ninth.