KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Banished to the minor leagues in April, Whit Merrifield has spent the last four months illuminating the folly of that decision. He has grown into a central part of the Royals’ offense, shoring up the leadoff spot. He has played splendid defense at second base. He has offered an element of grit and athleticism and speed, and on Sunday afternoon against the Chicago White Sox, he showcased what might be his most useful tool: the ability to deliver in the clutch.
In a 5-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox, Merrifield hit two homers for the first time in his career, including a game-tying blast in the bottom of the eighth inning. The solo homer set the stage for the Royals’ fourth walk-off victory in eight days in the bottom of the ninth.
Brandon Moss ripped a walk-off double down the right-field line against White Sox reliever Tyler Clippard, scoring Lorenzo Cain from second. The Royals (50-47) closed out a 10-game home stand with five straight victories. They remain a game and a half behind first-place Cleveland in the American League Central.
Mike Moustakas opened the ninth inning with a single and exited for Cain, a pinch runner who was given a day off Sunday. Cain advanced to second on a wild pitch before shortstop Alcides Escobar was plunked in the hand by reliever Gregory Infante.
Moments later, White Sox manager Rick Renteria summoned Clippard to face Moss.
The Royals opened the day with four solo homers before Moss’ late RBI double.
One night after matching a franchise record with five homers at Kauffman Stadium, the Royals picked up where they left off on Sunday afternoon. Merrifield opened the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer on a 2-0 sinker from Derek Holland. That was just the beginning of a fourth-inning blitzkrieg. The next batter, rookie Jorge Bonifacio, homered for a second straight day, recording his 13th home run of the season. Moments later, Eric Hosmer deposited a solo shot over the wall in right as the Royals hit back-to-back-to-back homers for the first time since May 25, 2006.
On that day, Tony Graffanino, Angel Berroa and Doug Mientkiewicz hit three consecutive homers against Detroit in the bottom of the first. The Tigers would rally with three runs in the eighth and five in the ninth, recording a 13-8 victory.
Starter Travis Wood squandered the 3-0 lead Sunday by allowing four runs in the fifth. The Royals, however, provided more late-game drama in the eighth and ninth innings.