Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Walk it off.
We took a trip through memory lane to remember the walk-off home runs from 2010-2013 , the pre-pennant years when baby-faced Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, and Mike Moustakas were still learning how to win from Professors Jeff Francoeur and James Shields. Let’s continue our journey!
The Royals had won 24 of 32 games going into this one, and led the division by 1.5 games going into this game. Danny Duffy was nails, tossing six shutout innings, but Twins starter Ricky Nolasco matched him. Duffy gave up a run in the seventh on a Joe Mauer, while the Royals still couldn’t managed to plate a run going into the bottom of the ninth. Alcides Escobar led off the inning with a bloop single to right off closer Glen Perkins, setting up a two-run home run by Gordo to win the game.
Paulo Orlando made an impression as a 29-year old rookie in 2015. He had a knack for triples, with five of his first seven career hits all going for three bags. But on July 7, he touched them all. The Royals blew a ninth inning lead when a wild pitch by Greg Holland allowed Kevin Kiermaier to score to tie the game 5-5. The Royals mounted one of their patented rallies in the bottom of the inning against Rays closer Brad Boxberger, and soon the bases were loaded with one out for Paulo Orlando. Orlando smacked just the second home run of his career at that point, a walk-off grand slam that earned him the nickname “Paulo Slam-o” by Rex Hudler. Hudler should have stopped there, but a week later, when Orlando hit another late-game home run, Hudler gave him the moniker “Paulo Game Winning Hom-o.”
Through the first month of the season, Kendrys Morales was strugg-a-ling. He entered this game barely above the Mendoza Line, and fan suggestions ranged from having him stop switch-hitting to cutting him outright.
On “Dressed to the Nines” Day, Royals starter Danny Duffy exited after just three innings because he was making his first start of the season after an injury, and the Royals tied a club record using nine pitchers. The relievers did their job, all except Wade Davis, who uncharacteristically gave up a 2-0 lead in the ninth. The game carried over into the 13th, when Morales took out some frustrations by golfing a pitch over the 410 sign in centerfield to win the game.
Houston came into this game on an eleven game winning streak and jumped out to an early 7-1 lead off Jakob Junis, who was making just his second career start. But the Astros had blown a big lead against the Royals before. The Royals scratched back into the game with a four-run eighth to tie the game 7-7. With two outs in the ninth, Salvador Perez hit a grounder that found a hole for a single. That set up Mike Moustakas, who smacked his 15th home run of the year, his fourth hit of the day, and part of what would be a club record 38 home runs for the season.
If you remember part one, the Royals got Joakim Soria for a couple of walk-off homers. But Soria wasn’t the only old friend the Royals gave a rude welcome. The Royals let Greg Holland go after 2015, but he revived his career in 2017 with Colorado. The Rockies carried a 4-3 lead in the ninth for Greg Holland to close things out, but he walked Alex Gordon to lead off the inning. After two quick outs, Melky Cabrera singled to set up the first walk-off home run in Eric Hosmer’s career, a three-run blast that gave the Royals a 6-4 win.
The Royals may have stunk in 2018, but they hit four walk off-homers that year, including one by light-hitting Alcides Escobar. Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson shut the Royals down, and the Twins lead 1-0 into the eighth. But Jorge Soler drew a bases loaded walk off Addison Reed to tie the game, and it would eventually take extra innings to decide a winner. The Twins stranded a runner at third in the ninth and tenth, but Escobar finally ended it in the 14th with a blast off lefty Taylor Rogers.
Hunter Dozier had a breakthrough season in 2019, but in August of 2018, he was a former first-round pick who had battled injuries and was hitting just .215/.272/.337. Brandon Maurer blew a 3-2 lead in the eighth - shocking, I know! - by giving up a two-run home run to Yonder Alonso. But Ryan O’Hearn picked up the team by hitting the first pitch offered by closer Cody Allen over the fence for a game-tying home run. Dozier followed up with a blast of his own to win the game, and from that point on, he hit 31 home runs over his next 169 career games.
The Royals and Orioles went into this game a combined 103 games under .500, so you’ll be forgiven for not remembering this one. The Jason Hammel-as-a-reliever experiment caused the Royals to blow a 4-3 lead in the eighth. But Orioles closer Mychal Givens had a tough time finding the plate, and walked Brett Phillips to lead off the ninth. Cam Gallagher sacrificed him to second, but Whit Merrifield said, “nah, let’s just end it now”, and lifted off with the first walk-off home run in his career for the 5-4 win.
This was one of the last times we saw Salvy hit! At least he gave us something good to remember for the last year he’s been out. The Royals trailed the Twins 4-3 going into the ninth, but Rosell Herrera provided a spark in the ninth with a one-out double. Whit Merrifield - a walk-off home run her two weeks prior - would simply tie the game this time with a single. Adalberto Mondesi singled to put the winning run at third, and the Twins elected to intentionally walk Alex Gordon to get to Salvy. All Salvy needed was a fly ball deep enough to score Whit, but he decided to just put it over the wall with a walk-off grand slam.
You'll receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams.
Emailed daily. Always FREE!