KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Paulo Orlando was biding his time in Triple-A, hoping to be recalled by the Royals when the rosters expand in September, when he got a call from them over the weekend.
He was headed back to Kansas City for the second time this season.
The timing turned out to be perfect.
In his first game back, the Brazilian outfielder hit a grand slam in the ninth inning off All-Star closer Brad Boxberger, giving the Royals a 9-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday in the opener of a day-night doubleheader.
“I just prepared in the minor leagues and waited for the opportunity,” Orlando said. “Now that I’m here, I’m just trying every day to stay here.”
It would be hard for anyone to send him back for a while.
Boxberger (4-5), added to the AL roster by Royals manager Ned Yost on Monday, gave up one-out singles to Eric Hosmer and Alex Rios before walking Omar Infante to load the bases.
Orlando followed by hitting his second career home run into the bullpen in left field.
“Just one of those days when I couldn’t make a pitch when I needed to,” Boxberger said.
The Rays had just tied the game off Royals closer Greg Holland (3-0), who allowed a leadoff triple to Kevin Kiermaier in the ninth but looked as if he may get bailed out.
Kiermaier slid over the bag and was tagged, but umpire Chris Segal ruled he got back in time. The call stood after a review of 4 minutes, 12 seconds. Holland then walked Curt Casali and struck out Grady Sizemore before a wild pitch allowed Kiermaier to score the tying run.
That all came after the Royals’ Kelvin Herrera struck out Sizemore and Joey Butler to leave runners on the corners in the seventh, Infante drove in the go-ahead run in the bottom half, and Wade Davis left runners on first and third in the eighth.
Alex Gordon homered and Kendrys Morales drove in a pair of runs for the Royals, who won despite playing an unorthodox lineup due to injuries and other circumstances.
All-Star center fielder Lorenzo Cain got the game off due to an ailing hamstring. Third baseman Mike Moustakas missed another game on the bereavement list. And All-Star catcher Salvador Perez got the opener off because he was due to start the nightcap.
James Loney and Evan Longoria each homered for Tampa Bay, which lost for the eighth time in nine games. Jake Elmore drove in the Rays other run.
“We’re playing all close games, so the little things get escalated,” Boxberger said. “We have to go out as a bullpen and be perfect every day and when we don’t it shows.”
The doubleheader was caused by a massive storm that caused numerous tornado warnings in the Kansas City area Monday night. While several inches of rain turned right field into a small lake, the field was in pristine shape by the first pitch Tuesday.
Royals starter Chris Young and Rays counterpart Matt Moore, making his second start in his return from Tommy John surgery, each allowed four runs while pitching under duress all afternoon.
The Royals loaded the bases on three consecutive singles to start the game, then had Hosmer pop out and Rios ground into a double play. Rios was also eliminated on a double play in the third inning, then got thrown out at third when he hesitated tagging up on a fly ball.
Of course, Orlando’s grand slam will make everyone forget about the missed opportunities.
“We just needed a sacrifice fly there,” Yost said. “Your first thought is, ‘Boom! He’s hit it in the air.’ Your second thought is, ‘It’s out of there!'”
WALK THIS WAY
The Royals’ past three wins have each featured game-ending hits, while the Rays have lost four of their past five games in the same walk-off fashion. Orlando’s winning slam was the fifth in franchise history and first since Justin Maxwell’s two years ago.
Rays: RHP Jake Odorizzi (strained left oblique) made his second rehab start Monday at Triple-A Charlotte: He allowed two hits and a walk in 5 2-3 scoreless innings.
Royals: LHP Jason Vargas (left flexor strain) was supposed to throw 60 pitches in a simulated game Tuesday. That will happen Wednesday because of the doubleheader.
Rays: RHP Matt Andriese was recalled to start Game 2 as the Rays’ 26th man.
Royals: RHP Edinson Volquez faces Tampa Bay for the fourth time in his career.