It's 3:14 a.m. in the 314 area code: Do you know where your baseball teams are, Missouri?
The Kansas City Royals were putting the finishing touches on a 4-2 marathon victory Friday morning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The game would have lasted a tidy 2 hours, 27 minutes without the hourlong rain delay before the first pitch, plus another delay of 4 hours, 32 minutes after K.C. took the lead in the top of the ninth.
Time spent waiting can only begin to tell the story of this game, which turned thanks to a score-tying home run by Jeff Francoeur in the ninth that broke a 59-inning streak without a homer for the Royals and broke the team's eight-game losing streak overall. Kansas City's moribund offense also welcomed Hall of Famer and franchise legend George Brett back to the dugout for his first day as batting coach. The Royals managed four hits and three walks, but made them count.
With Cardinals closer Edward Mujica getting the night off, Francouer — who came in batting .156 in May and hadn't gone deep since early April — homered against Mitchell Boggs that knotted the score at 2-all. Eric Hosmer followed with a two-run double that put the Royals up 4-2. Then came the rain. The game was delayed for nearly five hours in the ninth, while both teams waited to see if it would be finished or suspended.
Another unlikely hero for the Royals: Umpire crew chief Joe West, who made everyone wait for the final six outs:
West opted for patience and declined to invoke a rule clause in the final season meeting between teams that would have wiped out the top of the ninth and declared the Cardinals 2-1 winners.
''I wasn't sure we were going to get that game in, and to lose in that fashion after coming back in the ninth inning wouldn't have been right,'' Yost said. ''I credit Joe West for hanging in there. I credit their grounds crew for getting the field playable.''
So this makes up for Don Denkinger during Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, right?
Watch lighting miss Royals broadcaster Red Hudler and hit the St. Louis Arch:
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said the playing field was "bad" but credited the Busch grounds crew for making even that good. He also did not complain, at least to the umpires, about West making everyone wait. A good sport.