KANSAS CITY, Mo. It all started when a new shipment of designated hitter Billy Butler's "Hit it a TON" barbecue sauce arrived in the Royals' clubhouse six days ago.
That's when Royals right-hander Jeremy Guthrie began passing bottles of the sauce around the dugout during the game, rewarding Royals for getting big hits.
The television cameras began taking note, and now the story is close to going viral: There are bottles of Billy's barbecue sauce everywhere in the dugout, and players from Guthrie to Alex Gordon to Eric Hosmer to David Lough to Sal Perez have been shown grabbing the bottles and flashing them before the cameras after each Royals score.
And don't expect the fun to end all that soon: The Royals have won six straight for the first time in two years and seemingly righted their season, and it all coincides with Guthrie unleashing the power of the sauce.
"It started exactly when the streak started," Butler said. "Baseball players are superstitious. We all know that. It's not going to change. I like it.
"We got a new shipment in right before that first win of the streak. Jeremy has been getting us going ever since."
Although Butler launched his line of barbecue sauce over two months ago, the added television exposure from the dugout shots apparently has boosted sales in the last week.
"We sold out of some grocery stores already in the last couple of days," Butler said.
Guthrie said he isn't sure why he started grabbing bottles of the sauce and passing them out in the dugout after a score.
"When that shipment came in I just thought, 'Hey, we need to hit it a ton, too,' " Guthrie said. "And we started to."
Win No. 6 in a row came Monday night as Guthrie and the Royals battled to a tight 3-2 win over the division-leading Detroit Tigers.
Guthrie survived though he gave up a two-run homer to Miguel Cabrera in 6 13 innings of work.
"Actually, I threw a few barbecue balls myself today," Guthrie said, smiling. "But we won anyway."
Hosmer has been in on the "promotion" as well, and when the television cameras found him after Monday's win in the clubhouse, he launched into his best TV sales pitch voice.
"Hey, you'll do anything to score a run and get some barbecue sauce," Hosmer said, smiling and holding up a bottle of "Hit it a TON" sauce.
"And if you taste this sauce, you'll run the bases like me."
The idea for Billy's barbecue sauce came during the offseason and stemmed from Butler's relationship with Kansas City's Zarda barbecue, which along with Original Juan helped develop the sauce.
All proceeds from the sauce go to Butler's "Hit-It-A-Ton" foundation, which supplies food to needy families in the Kansas City area.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter @jflanagankc or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.