Well they did it again. The Kansas City Royals clawed back from a 4-0 deficit to come back and defeat the Chicago Cubs 5-4 this afternoon. In has become the theme of the early spring training season as the Royals improved to 5-1 on the season while the Cubs dropped to 1-5 under new manager Mike Quade.
While many fans realize challenging times will be ahead for the Royals this season, it's hard to not become giddy about the early start. Starting for Chicago was Matt Garza, opposing Bruce Chen for the Royals. Chen gave up a first inning home run to Tyler Colvin to give the Cubs and early 1-0 lead. Chen also gave up a double in the second inning before giving way to Danny Duffy. Duffy was a little shaky today giving up two walks and allowing a run when Colvin singled home catcher Max Ramirez.
In the fifth inning it looked like the Royals win streak may come to an end when Patrick Keating allowed two runs on three hits in his inning of work, including another RBI by Colvin. The former Clemson star was 3-for-3 with three RBI on the day. After five in Surprise it was Chicago stretching it out to a 4-0 lead.
Royals reliever Jeremy Jeffress then came in during the top of the sixth and really showed the fans what potential he has in the Kansas City bullpen, by putting together a sequence of 97-99-100-97 miles per hours fastballs at one point. This may have sparked Kansas City to turn up the heat with the bats, as young prospect Eric Hosmer belted a grand slam off Cubs pitcher John Gaub to tie the ballgame at 4-4. After Gaub gave up walks to Alcides Ecobar, Mitch Maier, and Mike Moustakas, Hosmer turned on a 2-2 count, 85 miles per hour slider and took it out to right field for his second home run in spring training. Ironically, those were the only three walks Kansas City players had all day.
Blaine Hardy then sent the Cubs down in order in the top half of the seventh inning, before the Royals scored again in the bottom half. After Joaquin Arias singled and reached second on a sacrifice by Lance Zawadzki, Maier singled to center allowing Arias to score what would be the winning run.
The Cubs never really threatened again as Hardy picked up the win for the Royals, while Steven Shell picked up the save for Kansas City. Gaub took the loss for the Cubs.
Besides Hosmer's grand slam there wasn't much going for Kansas City offensively, though Billy Butler was 2-for-2 at the plate. The Royals are back home tomorrow at 2:05 CST to face the Colorado Rockies who are 3-3 at the moment. As stated, the Royals improved to 5-1 and are currently alone in first place amongst American League teams in the spring training standings (and all of baseball as well).