Just back from Kauffman Stadium, where the Kansas City Royals made it a perfectly reasonable Friday night by scoring a run in the seventh and two in the eighth to beat the Minnesota Twins 4-3.
The sorely needed win was a nice way to kickoff the home stand, but even had the Royals lost, there still were major positives.
Like, say, welcome back, Joakim Soria.
True, the Royals had to get a lead to make his contribution possible, but as I sat out in left field near the foul pole and watched Soria lazily warm up in the eighth (you know, just in case the Royals needed him - they were still losing), I couldn't help but wonder if it would even matter if Soria did get in the game. Even with five saves, he just hadn't been good enough lately for me to be confident.
But, oh, it mattered. Finally, it mattered.
First pitch strikes. Constant battering of the strike zone. Two outs in five pitches. Making Twins hitters take a feeble stab at barely hittable pitches. It was Soria's sixth save of the season, but for the first time this year, to me anyways, it was nice to see Soria again in control of a ninth inning and not hanging on through it. Boy, it was missed.
Soria wasn't the only bright spot on Friday. Alex Gordon, with a double, triple and near-home run (that was no more than a foot or two short of the center field wall) continues to rake.
Blake Wood, turned in a third-straight strong relief appearance - going 1.2 innings without giving up a run and getting the win. Overall, Wood, Louis Coleman and Soria combined for 3.2 innings of one-hit, one-walk and four strikeout ball.
We found out from Ned Yost in postgame that Jason Kendall is in charge of the running game in home games. That's fantastic...as long as the Royals decide that bench coach is exactly the role in which Kendall best serves the club.
And, Jarrod Dyson's speed rattled the normally unshakable Twins - forcing an errant throw at second that allowed Wilson Betemit to score the tying run.
The Royals competed, and they won.
Normally, I wouldn't make such a big deal out of a 4-3 come-from-behind win in game number 26, but after an 0-6 roadtrip that tore the heart out of the hot start to the season, this win is huge. The young bullpen guys got a little more confidence.
The bench guys got to contribute to a solid win.
All in all, just a fun Friday night at the park in Kansas City as the Royals move back to .500.
I'll take it.
p.s. - If you didn't see the Twitter updates on @curtiskitchen, yeah, I swore after the Royals beat LAA that I wouldn't cut my hair until the Royals lost a series. Well, I finally had to cut my hair after the Royals got swept at Texas...that stunk, but after tonight's win, the Royals are now 3-0 in games I've attended in 2011. Feel free to get me season tickets for the rest of the season.