– The delay lasted more than three minutes Wednesday night, with a three-time All-Star left fielder lying flat on the warning track, his mobility hampered by a left groin strain.

A fourth-inning play that could shape the Kansas City Royals’ season — or at least the foreseeable future — finished with Alex Gordon sitting on the back of a cart, riding through the visitor’s bullpen and into the bowels of the stadium.

As the crowd of 28,204 fans succumbed to an eerie silence, a handful of Gordon’s teammates stood on the field, nearly motionless and expressionless.

And then they marched on without him.

The Royals captured their fourth straight victory, knocking around All-Star pitcher Chris Archer and hanging on late for a 9-7 triumph against the Tampa Bay Rays.

But the win was largely overshadowed by Gordon’s departure, which occurred after he attempted to chase down a fly ball in the top of the fourth. As he remained on the ground, Logan Forsythe circled the bases for an inside-the-park-home run.

An MRI was scheduled for late Wednesday to determine the severity of the strain.

“He heard it pop, which isn’t good,” manager Ned Yost said. “The doctors didn’t think it detached from the bone, which is a good thing. But it kind of took the wind out of the sails.”

Gordon fell less than 24 hours after one of his best days as a Royal. He recorded seven hits and drove in six runs in Tuesday’s doubleheader.