For the first time in what seems like forever, the sun is shining on the Kansas City Royals. Sometimes, a little too brightly.
The first-place team in the American League Central beat the Oakland Athletics 7-3 on Thursday for its 18th victory in 22 games. The Royals took five of seven in the season series from Oakland, which has the best record in Major League Baseball, and stayed one-half game ahead of the Detroit Tigers in the division. Kansas City hasn't been in this position in the standings in August since the 2003 season, and hasn't made the playoffs since winning the World Series in 1985 — when outfielder Jarrod Dyson had just turned 1 year old.
One of the key hits in Kansas City's five-run seventh inning came from Dyson, whose RBI single tied the score. In the top of the sixth inning, Dyson had lost a fly ball in the sun at Kauffman Stadium, a misplay that cost Kansas City two runs.
''I felt real bad cause we had the lead and they came back and snatched the lead from us,'' Dyson said.
The A's trailed by a run with two outs in the sixth when Josh Reddick skied a fly to center. Dyson appeared to lack confidence from the start that he'd catch the ball, and got only part of a bare hand on it as it plummeted to the turf. Reddick was credited with an RBI triple — official scorers usually don't charge players with errors on balls botched with Mother Nature's help — and he later scored to give the A's a 3-2 lead.
If the Royals had lost by a run, Dyson probably would have continued to feel lousy, but he collected himself with an 0-2 count against Ryan Cook in the seventh and lined an RBI single to right.
''I feel pretty good after redeeming myself,'' Dyson said. ''I lost the ball in the sun, so I had to make up for it, pick the team up and pick myself up. It was redeem myself or walk off the field. Which one?''
It also made for a happy birthday for Dyson, who turns 30 today. In the series opener Monday night, Dyson called attention to the Royals ascending to first place by doing a backflip after catching the final out. After losing a ball in the sun and redeeming himself an inning later, he's developing a flair — or is it a flare? — for the dramatic. Dyson coming into his own as a performer comes at a great time for the Royals, who are emerging from the franchise's dark ages, and stepping into the light of contending teams. The future's so bright, sometimes even wearing shades doesn't even have an effect.
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