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Royals Walk Off on a Bunt After Near No-No Goes Awry

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By Jackson Stone (MLB.com)

 

KANSAS CITY — The Royals’ speed has officially put the league on notice.

After taking two of three from the Dodgers in July with smart baserunning and small ball, Kansas City has established an identity that teams have trouble containing, especially when that includes slowing down Dairon Blanco.

The speedy outfielder, who bunted in two runs during the Phillies’ series on Kansas City’s latest road trip, caused havoc again in the Royals’ 7-6 victory over the Mariners on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium.

With the game-winning run on third and one out, Blanco laid down a textbook bunt up the first-base line. Pinch-runner Samad Taylor got a great break and sprinted home, gliding over the plate without a throw to secure the walk-off win.

“Just how [Blanco] drew it up,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “[Mariners reliever Matt Brash] is throwing 100 miles per hour. It’s not easy to [bunt].”

Blanco had planned to bunt if he came to the plate with fewer than two outs, and after Salvador Perez’s sac fly tied the game and advanced Taylor to third, the opportunity arose.

“The situation came up, and I got it done, and we won the ballgame,” Blanco said.

Kansas City’s speed was no secret to the Mariners. Before the game, Mariners manager Scott Servais acknowledged that the Royals’ speed and contact led Kansas City to a 10-6 record in its past 16 games. The Royals have the second-most stolen bases (116) in the American League behind Tampa Bay (130) after adding another on Monday.

“Kansas City has been playing much better of late. … They’re able to put a lot of pressure on you,” Servais said. “They’re very young and athletic. They bunt, they put the ball in play and are super aggressive on the bases, super aggressive in the batter’s box.”

The Royals almost didn’t need Blanco’s at-bat thanks to Brady Singer’s stellar outing. The 27-year-old took a no-hitter into the seventh before Dominic Canzone ended the no-hit bid with a single to right on a slider low and inside the zone.

Singer is no stranger to flirting with history. In just his eighth big league start against Cleveland on Sept. 10, 2020, he was four outs from Kansas City’s first no-hitter since 1991. On Monday against the red-hot Mariners, Singer became the first Royal starter to take a no-no at least 7 2/3 innings since that outing against Cleveland.

“You think I’d have learned something [from the first time], trying to get it done,” Singer joked. “But the pitches were just working. I was able to throw them where I wanted to, and everything had the right movement to it.”

Singer drew five whiffs on 12 swings on his slider and struck out eight or more batters for the fourth time this year. It was the second time in his past three outings that Singer went at least seven innings and allowed three or fewer hits.

“Everything felt good,” Singer said. “I was able to stay in the strike zone with my pitches. Sinker was good. I was able to keep it up in the zone, which has been working for me. Just staying on the attack.”

Despite allowing his first hit with two outs in the seventh, Singer closed the frame after the next batter. The righty sat down the first 14 Mariners before issuing a walk to Cade Marlowe in the fifth to end his perfect bid.

“I knew [about the no-hitter], but you never think it’s going to happen, so I was just trying to go out there and make pitches,” Singer said. “Obviously, if it happened, it happened, but [I was] just trying to stay in the zone as much as I could and not worry about that. Just try and get quick outs.”

The Royals came dangerously close to losing a game that Singer left with a 5-0 lead after the bullpen allowed Seattle to take the lead in the ninth.

But Bobby Witt Jr., whose 4-for-5 day included an inside-the-park home run, Perez (4 RBIs) and Blanco didn’t let Singer’s outing go to waste.

“Unbelievable. The whole team was fighting the whole time,” Singer said. “It’s something we’ve done all year. It’s really good to see tonight, and that’s what we’ve been doing — fighting until the last out.”

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