Fly that banner high! (Image borrowed from here.)
Admit it: when Brandon Duckworth relieved Gil Meche in the 8th of a scoreless game and promptly -- I mean promptly, before I could figure out that it wasn't Todd Wellemeyer on the mound -- walked the first two batters in the minimum pitches required to walk two batters (couldn't we have let Nick Swisher take his base after two pitches, to save some angst?), you thought the Royals were done. Tired. Beat. Blinking, battered, up at omens of the precipitous and the precipitating terminus.
Consider: fantastic outing from the starting pitcher with no lead to show for it; blown chance to score, when two innings earlier Esteban German tripled with one out but the next batter grounded into a fielder's choice (guess who the fielder chose); a dip into the bullpen, which -- and I'm not complaining here, just pointing this out -- has the second worst ERA in the league at 5.39 (but only 0.32 higher than Baltimore's $40-million pen). Kansas City's three-game winning streak with Meche on the mound looked doomed.
But then... Jimmy Gobble galloped in to the rescue! He struck out Eric Chavez, got Milton Bradley to fly out and somehow retired Dan Johnson, who smoked a pitch straight at Mark Teahen. And with that momentum -- if you believe in such things -- Alex Gordon got on base with a solid single before John Buck thwacked an opposite field home run. (Buck was on the receiving end of the defensive play of the game, too, when, in the 7th, he received a throw from Teahen and tagged out Mark Ellis, who plowed into him.) Meche, Gobble, Buck -- the triumphant triumvirate of the night -- with Joakim Soria closing the night. Huzzah!
POSTSCRIPT: Both starting pitchers lowered their ERAs last night, Meche to 1.91 and Dan Haren to a ridiculous 1.64. But for the second time in five days, it was our conquering hero who prevailed.