The Royals beat the Tigers 1-0 Saturday night thanks to an RBI triple by Eric Hosmer in the top of the first, a strong start from Ervin Santana, solid relief work by Will Smith and Luke Hochevar, and this game-ending play, which came with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Prince Fielder, who had walked to lead off the inning against Royals' closer Greg Holland, was attempting to score from first base on a double off the left-field wall by Omar Infante:
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Sending Fielder all the way home from first base with the Tigers down to their last out might seem like a foolish move on the part of Tigers' third base coach Tom Brookens, but it took near-perfect work from three Royals fielders to nab him at the plate, and even then the play was close enough that a different slide may have avoided catcher Salvador Perez's tag. Left fielder Alex Gordon got to the ball quickly, fielded it cleanly, and fired a line-drive strike to the cut-off man, shortstop Alcides Escobar, who caught the ball near the foul line and in perfect position to throw. Escobar, in turn, fired a strong, low throw to Perez, but it did tail a bit away from the runner and require Perez to field a short hop. Perez, however, was able to field the ball to his left while keeping his body within range of the runner to make a quick tag that caught Fielder in the gut on the outer edge of the right-handed batter's box, well before he reached the plate. Runner out, game over.
The loss was no big deal to the Tigers, who are still five games up in the American League Central with just 14 to play, but every game is crucial to the Royals, who are just 3 1/2 games behind the wild-card leading Rays and Rangers. The Royals are unlikely to close that gap, but they haven't been in the mix in mid-September since 2003, and to win a thriller like this against the division leader at this time of year and have it matter counts as a major event in Kansas City baseball.
Updated at 12:35 am EST to reflect the result of the Rays-Twins game.