The Kansas City Royals aren’t ready to concede the best record in the American League to the Detroit Tigers, winning again in a likely ALCS preview.
The Royals took a never-say-die attitude towards this contest, coming away 3-2 winners in 12 innings.
If every game of the ALCS turns out this way, we’re in for a treat.
Bret Saberhagen had thrown 6 shutout innings for K.C., taking a 1-0 lead into the top of the 7th before running into trouble when Larry Herndon and Howard Johnson each singled.
With two outs, Lou Whitaker hit an RBI single to tie the game up and send Sabes to the bench.
Joe Beckwith entered and got Alan Trammell to hit one back to the mound but fumbled the grounder for an error that allowed Johnson to score, giving Detroit a 2-1 lead with Juan Berenguer throwing lights out.
Despite a solid 8 innings (1 ER) from Berenguer, the Tigers turned to closer Willie Hernandez in the bottom of the 9th.
After retiring the first two Royals batters and facing the bottom of the order, Hernandez ran into trouble.
Darryl Motley walked, moved up on a Steve Balboni single, then scored on Frank White’s RBI single.
Hernandez struck out the next three men he faced, but Detroit couldn’t capitalize on a leadoff double by Whitaker in the 10th, stranding him.
In the bottom of the 12th, Aurelio Lopez came on for Detroit and couldn’t keep the game going.
Balboni reached when Lopez threw away a grounder back to the mound.
U.L. Washington pinch ran for Balboni, moved up to 2nd on a grounder to 2nd and scored on a walk-off base hit by Don Slaught.
Kansas City now trails Detroit by 4.5 games in the race for best record in the American League.
Detroit has clinched no worse than a tie for the AL East title and Kansas City has a magic number of 2 over 2nd place Seattle.
The Tigers have 9 games remaining in their schedule while the Royals have 10 to go.