The palette of the sky above U.S. Cellular Field shifted from blue to gray to black during the last three ragged hours of Saturday’s marathon. The tableau formed a fitting backdrop for a shape-shifting game between the Royals and White Sox. Thunder rumbled, lightning flashed and the sun broke through the clouds — and sometimes all in the same inning — as a game teetered between two weary clubs. Yet the sky settled back into a brilliant blue when Lorenzo Cain unloaded on a slider from Chicago reliever Dan Jennings in the 13th. The baseball soared over the left-field fence, which allowed Kansas City to grab a 7-6 lead, the only one on this day the Royals did not relinquish. Cain showed no signs of fatigue as he raced around the bases. “I was hoping for anybody on this team to hit a home run, at that point,” Cain said. “But I ended up doing it. I’m happy – everybody’s ready to get out of here and move on to tomorrow.” Welcome to the second half: The Royals, 54-35, played 31 innings in two days, White Sox ace Chris Sale looms on Sunday and the team won’t have a day off again until Aug. 3. To survive Saturday, Kansas City deployed eight pitchers in a game that lasted four hours and 56 minutes, thanks in part to Greg Holland’s third blown save of the season. The game spanned multitudes. Kansas City opened with a first-inning flurry. Both teams weathered flash thunderstorms in the middle innings. Then the Royals displayed enough depth in their relief corps to escape with a victory. “It was a big relief,” manager Ned Yost said. “That game took a toll on both teams’ bullpens. It was really important to try to squeak this one out.” The afternoon managed to reveal the team’s weaknesses while still somehow highlighting its strengths. Their starting pitching remains suspect: Jeremy Guthrie surrendered a three-run lead across five innings. The loss of Alex Gordon weakened both the lineup and the outfield defense. And Holland is less reliable than in past years, as his ERA rose to 3.14 thanks to inexact command of his slider and splitter.
Lorenzo Cain’s home run in 13th inning lifts Royals to wild 7-6 victory over White Sox
Kansas City Star | Jul 19