Merrifield mashes two homers for Royals

Published 9:05 am Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Kansas City Royals are 40-27 since a rocky start. Last week they had four walk-off wins in a span of eight days. They swept a three-game series from the Chicago White Sox. They entered Monday only 1.5 games behind first-place Cleveland in the American League Central.

They owe a lot of their success to Whit Merrifield of Advance. He wowed fans with a two-homer game in a 5-4 win over the White Sox on Sunday.

Merrifield went 2 for 3 with a walk, extending his hitting streak to 10 games.

“He plays great defense,” teammate Brandon Moss told reporters. “He runs the bases well. And he can hit. It’s just surprising he wasn’t up here sooner. But everybody has their own path.”

In the bottom of the fourth, Merrifield opened the scoring with a solo homer, blasting a 2-0 sinker from starter Derek Holland. Jorge Bonifacio and Eric Hosmer followed with homers as the Royals (50-47) hit back-to-back-to-back homers for the first time since May 25, 2006.

The Royals trailed 4-3 going into the bottom of the eighth. You can guess who tied the game. Facing lefty reliever Dan Jennings, Merrifield fell behind 1-2. He sent a 2-2 slider down the left-field line for his second home run of the game. In the ninth, Moss delivered a walk-off double.

“He’s a weird at-bat,” Merrifield said of Jennings’ unconventional delivery. “Because he’s so jerky and quick. So I just tried to slow everything down, just get the barrel to it. I fouled a couple pitches off that were tough pitches. Then he threw a slider that was a decent pitch. It was down, but I kind of got extended and put the barrel on it.”

Merrifield, who became the everyday second baseman and leadoff man a while back after starting the year in Triple-A, is hitting .293 with 10 homers and 41 RBIs in 86 games.

“It’s why you play the game,” he said of the game-tying homer. “I love those situations.”