Merrifield stars in Royals’ rally

Published 8:36 am Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Kansas City Royals dug down deep on June 6, erased a 7-1 deficit against the hottest team in baseball and came up with a 9-7 home win over the Houston Astros.

Whit Merrifield was at the heart of the improbable rally.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, the second baseman from Advance jerked a bases-loaded, three-run, game-tying double off Astros closer Ken Giles. An inning later, KC’s Mike Moustakas ended the longest winning streak in the majors (11) with a two-run, walk-off homer.

The Royals, who faced a 7-1 hole after four and a half innings,  trailed 7-4 when Merrifield strolled to the plate. He won the battle against Giles, who has an occasional 100-mph heater to go with a filthy slider. Merrifield, looking for a mistake, got a hanging breaking ball and made Giles pay, smacking the double to the wall in left. Now the game was tied at 7.

In the ninth, Moustakas launched his 15th homer, the Royals improved to 25-32 and avoided a third straight loss.

“Hopefully we can build,” Merrifield said. “We’ve had situations like this before and haven’t quite been able to build momentum and carry on into the rest of the series.”