KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It wasn't the loudest of hits. Not a stinging line drive or a blast into the fountains beyond the outfield walls he made so famous with his innocent request a few years back. It was an infield single to third base by Wil Myers in the ninth inning.
And with the way both sides pitched Tuesday night, an infield single by the slumping Myers was all that was needed to start the Tampa Bay Rays toward a 1-0 victory against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
OK, there was the wild pitch with two outs that moved Myers to second base and another clutch hit by James Loney that drove Myers home.
That was all the offense the Rays got, and all they were needed.
Chris Archer and a trio of relievers – Jake McGee, Joel Peralta and Grant Balfour – made sure of that as the Rays snapped a seven-game losing streak in Kansas City.
“We finally got 'em,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “We got 'em in Kansas City. It's unbelievable.”
Archer pitched seven shutout innings. He allowed six hits and walked two. He pitched out of bases-loaded, one-out jams in the third and sixth innings, getting a double-play grounder to end the third and a foul pop and a grounder to Evan Longoria to end the sixth.
“Most of that was due to (catcher Jose Molina),” Archer said. “(Tuesday) was one of those nights were we were completely in sync. I was like his robot. He would punch in a combination, tell me what pitch to throw and I threw it. We worked together really well. Defense made outstanding plays that got me out of some big jams. (Tuesday) was an all-around team effort. Defense, pitching, offense came through when we needed it.”
It had to, because Royals rookie Yordano Ventura was equally as tough, holding the Rays to only two hits and striking out six in his six innings.
“He's really, really good,” Myers said. “I faced him in the 2012 Futures Game and he's even better.”
With the Rays offense scuffling for runs – only three in their last three games – Archer and company worked with no room for error. That's why getting out of those two bases-loaded situations was key for Archer and key for Peralta, who retired the Royals with the bases loaded in the eighth.
A sacrifice fly or one hit during either of those innings could have changed the entire night.
“I had so much trust in myself and what Jose was calling and in the defense that I never at any point thought I was going to fail,” Archer said. “Whenever I have that mentality I'm usually the most successful. Even when I walked one and they got two hits after that, with the way we were playing D, I was just going to let them put it in play and we were going to get it down.”
After placing Matt Moore on the disabled list before the game with left elbow soreness and scheduling a trip for the left-hander to visit Dr. James Andrews today, the Rays needed a shot of feel good against the Royals.
Or maybe a sloppy win. Anything to end the losing streak at Kauffman Stadium.
Turns out that came from Myers, who began the night batting .185 and saw his average drop as he struck out in each of his first three at-bats. Add the pressure of living up to the hype that still surrounds Myers in Kansas City even after the December 2012 trade that essentially sent him to the Rays for James Shields, and you have one young player pressing to do something right.
“It's just one of those things, you want to get off to a hot start and obviously, the worst start I've had in professional baseball. It happens,” Myers said. “I went through a streak worse than this but it just wasn't at the start of a season. I look up at my .172 average, not fun. I feel good at the plate, just not getting the results.”
He didn't really get the results on his ninth-inning hit, but he was hitless in his 11 career at-bats in the stadium when he came to bat in the ninth inning. This time he put the ball in play. It wasn't hard, but it was hit right.
Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas moved to his left to field the ball but did not have a play at first base.
Myers, who asked that the stadium's fountains be turned on while taking batting practice before his pre-draft workout in 2009, joked that his infield single would look much bigger in the game's box score.
“Looks like a line drive,” he said. “I'll take it.”
So will the Rays.