I’m impressed that there are still Royals fans showing up to Target Field, for a September game between two teams a combined 50 games out of first place. And especially that one of them cared enough to yell, “Balk! Balk!” when Stephen Gonsalves picked Jorge Bonifacio in the second inning.
For Gonsalves, it was a nice moment on a night that didn’t have too many. It also was the result of an emphasis on limiting the running game.
“In the last month, I worked with Mike McCarthy [bullpen coach for Class AAA Rochester] a lot,” Gonsalves said. “He showed me I can use it as a weapon. I think we’ve done good work, and we’ve got two [pickoffs] up here, so we’re doing the right thing.”
So, is it a balk? Does he stride too far toward home plate?
“They’ll keep yelling it, but I’ll tell them it’s not a balk,” Gonsalves said. “And I’m pretty sure the umpires won’t call it one, either.”
Eddie Rosario, who hadn’t played in eight days due to a strained right quad, hit a grounder into the hole at shortstop in the first inning. He was going to be out anyway, but he didn’t run at top speed, and his manager noticed.
“Seems like it always happens — a guy comes back from a leg injury, and he’s got to try to leg one out the first ball he puts in play,” Paul Molitor said. “I was concerned, and had talked to him. He said he was OK, he just didn’t want to risk trying to max out there on the ground out.”
Molitor kept his eye on Rosario, looking for indications he wasn’t quite healed. He singled to left field in the third inning, went to second base on Logan Forsythe’s single, and scored on a Jake Cave double.
“He was a little ginger on the base hit when he was going to second,” Molitor said. “But he kept reassuring me that he’ll let me know when he couldn’t go.”
So Rosario stayed in the game — and good thing. When he led off the eighth inning against Wily Peralta, Rosario pulled an inside slider deep down the right field line, his team-leading 23rd home run of the season, but first since Aug. 19 and only his fourth since the All-Star break.
“I don’t know if he was sitting on that slider that last at-bat,” Molitor said, “but it went far.”