Thursday, May 01, 2014
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Royals Slip Past Jays On Escobar's 2-Run Double

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[May 01, 2014]  KANSAS CITY, Mo.  Alcides Escobar came through in the clutch for the Kansas City Royals, while the Toronto Blue Jays could not buy a timely hit Wednesday.

The shortstop hit a two-run double with two outs in the seventh inning, snapping a tie and lifting the Royals to a 4-2 victory over the Blue Jays.

Escobar's two-out, two-strike hit scored pinch runner Jimmy Paredes, who swiped two bases, and catcher Salvador Perez.

The Blue Jays, meanwhile, stranded 12 runners, including eight after the fifth inning, and went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

"We left some guys on, but they throw some pitching at you," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "They've got some big-time arms. They're good. They've got a real shot at this (American League Central) division over here. They're great competitors. They battle you and they're going to get their bats going. They can shut you down with their pitching staff."

Escobar started the season slowly, but he is 16-for-47 (.340) with seven extra-base hits in his past 14 games.

"He's always been an important part of our club because of his defense," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He saves runs in the field. But when you add offense to that, he becomes a very special player."

Escobar hit a puny .234 last year with a .259 on-base percentage and a .300 slugging percentage.

"That's last year. That's done," Escobar said.

Right-hander Kelvin Herrera, the third of six Kansas City pitchers, picked up the victory. Herrera (1-1) pitched a scoreless seventh inning.

Toronto right-hander Drew Hutchison (1-2) allowed four runs on five hits and a walk in seven innings. He struck out five.

"It's frustrating, but at the end of the day I need to do a better job to give us a chance to win after we came back and scored two runs," Hutchison said. "I was in complete control going into the seventh. It comes down to that it's on me and I need to get the job done."

The Blue Jays loaded the bases in the eighth on two walks and a single off Wade Davis, but the right-hander struck out shortstop Jose Reyes on three pitches, all called, to end the threat.

"It's one of those games where we had opportunities but didn't get the timely hit," said Blue Jays second baseman Chris Getz, who stroked two hits and drew a walk. "Obviously, the name of the game is getting those timely hits, but they made their pitches. The strength of their team is the bullpen and defense. They came through when they needed to make a pitch."

Kansas City closer Greg Holland worked the ninth to log his seventh save in as many chances.

"The mark of a good bullpen is when you have guys pick each other up when they get in jams," Holland said.

The Royals improved their record to 14-0 when scoring at least four runs.

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"The Blue Jays tied the score at 2-2 in the sixth off relievers Danny Duffy and Aaron Crow. Duffy's first pitch struck left fielder Melky Cabrera. Cabrera, who leads the majors with 41 hits, exited with a bruised left shin, but X-rays were negative. He is listed as day-to-day, but Gibbons said he did not know if Cabrera would be able to play Thursday.

He's going to be all right," Gibbons said. "He got it right on the shin pretty good, but there's nothing broken in there."

Toronto right fielder Jose Bautista drew his 30th walk, tying a club record for a month. Duffy, who threw only one strike in six pitches, then was replaced by Crow, who surrendered run-producing singles to third baseman Juan Francisco and first baseman Edwin Encarnacion.

The Royals manufactured a run in the first. Right fielder Nori Aoki led off with a double down the left field line. Second baseman Omar Infante's sacrifice bunt advanced Aoki to third, and Aoki scored on first baseman Eric Hosmer's sacrifice fly.

The Royals made it 2-0 in the fourth when Infante and Hosmer hit back-to-back doubles to open the inning. There was a video review after Hosmer was called out at the plate on left fielder Alex Gordon's grounder. Following a 2-minute, 25-second delay, the call was upheld that Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro did not block the plate in violation of the rules.

Royals rookie right-hander Yordando "Ace" Ventura limited the Blue Jays to two singles and no runs over five innings, lowering his ERA to an American League-low 1.50. The Blue Jays did not have a runner reach second base with Ventura on the mound.

"The only thing I'm really upset about is Yordano didn't get the well-deserved win," Duffy said.

NOTES: Blue Jays 3B Brett Lawrie, who started the first 26 games, was out of the lineup due to back tightness. He was replaced by Juan Francisco, who went 1-for-2 with two walks and an RBI. ... Toronto RHP Casey Janssen, who is on the disabled list because of a back injury, threw a bullpen session Wednesday and has another scheduled for Friday. If all goes well, Janssen likely will go to the minors for a rehab assignment. ... The Royals are making contingency plans should LHP Bruce Chen, who received an epidural for a bulging disk in his lower back, not be able to make his Saturday start against the Detroit Tigers. Chen will throw a bullpen session Thursday to see how his back responds.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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