How MJ Melendez saved the day for the Kansas City Royals with some crazy baserunning

It’s not often a feat of sheer athleticism and flexibility — coupled with a split-second decision — is the decider of a baseball game.

On Thursday afternoon at Progressive Field, those traits proved to be the difference in the Royals’ 4-3 victory over the Cleveland Guardians.

Royals left fielder MJ Melendez, hitting just .167 entering Thursday’s game, put his body on the line in the sixth inning. He raced home and acrobatically contorted his body over Cleveland catcher Bo Naylor while avoiding the tag.

Melendez was initially called out at the plate, but the Royals challenged the call. The review showed Melendez had touched home first, and the score was tied 3-all.

Two innings later, the Royals scored the game-winning run.

With two out in the top of the eighth, KC second baseman Adam Frazier kept the inning alive with a double and Kyle Isbel singled to put the Royals ahead 4-3.

The Royals improved to 37-26 on the season.

Here’s how the game got to that point...

It didn’t take long for both teams to score runs.

KC’s Vinnie Pasquantino doubled in the top of the first and got the Royals on the board (Maikel Garcia scored). The Guardians answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning.

Two innings later, the Guardians took a 2-1 lead off a solo homer by José Ramírez.

Royals starting pitcher Brady Singer exited the game after allowing his third run in the fourth inning. Singer didn’t look like his usual self. He pitched 3 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs with two strikeouts. He surrendered nine hits and one walk.

Cleveland starter Tanner Bibee fared slightly better. He left the game after allowing two batters to reach in the sixth. Both eventually scored.

Bibee pitched five innings, allowing two earned runs with seven strikeouts. He allowed six hits and one walk.

Missed the start of the series?

Game 1: Why Bobby Witt Jr., after 2 home runs, took the blame for Royals loss: ‘I made a mistake.’

Game 2: Kansas City Royals’ Wednesday evening game at Cleveland Guardians postponed

Maikel Garcia flashes fielding chops

Royals third baseman Maikel Garcia showed off his fielding prowess in the second inning.

Garcia fielded a bunt barehanded and then threw a strike to first that beat out the Guardians’ Steven Kwan.

At the plate, Garcia went 1 for 5 with a run. He is hitting .266 this season.

Up Next: The Royals start their three-game series against the Seattle Mariners at 7:10 p.m. Central on Friday. Daniel Lynch will face off against Seattle’s Bryce Miller.