Maxwell's grand slam lifts Royals

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kansas City manager Ned Yost said the Royals' July 31 trade to acquire Justin Maxwell from the Houston Astros went under the radar.
Not anymore.
Maxwell's grand slam in the 10th inning lifted the Royals to a 4-0 victory over the Texas Rangers on Sunday, keeping the Royals' slim playoff hopes alive.
Maxwell's two-out full-count grand slam off Joakim Soria, a former Royals closer, landed far over the left-field fence for his seventh home run.
"No. 1, he's extremely intelligent," Yost said on trading for Maxwell. "No. 2, he's extremely athletic. And No. 3, he's got monster power. You take those three things and you just know he can help your club.
"We don't win ball games like that very often, and that wasn't a wall scrapper. He was a guy that fit our profile for our team. He's got energy, life, a great teammate and he's got monster power."
The Rangers fell 1 1/2 games behind the Indians for the final wild-card playoff spot in the American League. The Royals kept their faint playoffs cards alive with the victory, but are 3 1/2 games in arrears of the Indians with seven road games remaining.
"To have your teammates maul you and have the fans here really embrace you is really nice," Maxwell said. "I was really extremely excited. I had to lay down a minute and catch my breath.
"I hit 3-2 a lot. That really separates being a .300 hitter and below a .300 hitter. I think the more pitches you see, the better you're going to be; 3-2, bases loaded, two out, I was looking for a fastball strike and I got one."
Eric Hosmer opened the Royals' 10th with an opposite-field double off Neal Cotts, who took the loss. Soria was brought in, and he walked Billy Butler intentionally and yielded an infield single to Salvador Perez. Soria retired the next two batters before Maxwell's blast.
"Soria did a nice job," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He just happened to get a fastball out over the plate and Maxwell hit it."
Rangers starter Alexi Ogando, who came off the disabled list Sept. 2, was restricted to 77 pitches. He threw seven scoreless innings, allowing just two singles, walking one and striking out five. The Royals got only one runner past first base off Ogando.
Royals ace James Shields was just as good, tossing eight shutout innings and giving up six hits while walking one and striking out two.
"Him and Ogando were locked up, zero zero," Washington said. "We put ourselves in positions to get some runs off Shields, but just didn't deliver."
Closer Greg Holland replaced Shields in the ninth and struck out Alex Rios to start the inning, but Rios reached first on a wild pitch. Rios stole second, but was out trying to take third on Adrian Beltre's fly out to left. Left fielder Alex Gordon, a two-time Gold Glove recipient, picked up his American League-leading 16th outfield assist.
"In that situation, with Holland on the mound, I had to take that base," Rios said. "I took a chance on accuracy. If that throw is to either side, if it's left or right, I'm in. He just made a perfect throw. We're struggling to score runs. I had to take that base."
Tanner Scheppers, who replaced Ogando, retired all four batters he faced, striking out three. Scheppers has retired 16 of the past 18 batters he has faced.
The Royals received a major scare in the third when a David Murphy line drive struck Shields in the right elbow as he turned his back and attempted to duck out of the way. Shields recovered to throw out Murphy, but head trainer Nick Kenny and Yost rushed out to attend to him.
After a few warm-up tosses, Shields remained in the game. He gave up two-out singles to Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus, but retired Rios on a fielder's choice grounder to third baseman Mike Moustakas to end the inning.
NOTES: Royals LHP Danny Duffy, who has a strained left forearm, is eligible to come off the disabled list Monday, but it is unlikely he will make another start this year. Duffy said he has not played catch since going on the DL, and has just received treatment. ... LHP Derek Holland, who starts Monday against the Astros, will be looking for his first Rangers Ballpark victory since May 31. ... The crowd of 27,899 Sunday pushed the Royals home attendance to 1,750,754 for the season.

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