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Hungry Dogs Run Fast: Waggoner, Greenberg Lead Total Team Effort in Royals’ Doubleheader Sweep

By Larry Lachman, 03/05/24, 12:00AM CST


No man is an island.  We must draw our strengths from others.

For the second straight week, the Royals found themselves navigating treacherous gale force winds that turned routine fly balls into high-stakes adventures and pitches into unpredictable odysseys.  Yet, amidst the tempest, the Royals discovered a reservoir of resilience and camaraderie, propelling them to conquer their opponents with unwavering determination and unrivaled teamwork.

Drew Waggoner had a huge day for the Royals, hitting for a combined cycle for the doubleheader, accounting for 12 of the Royals’ 30 runs, and the Royals extended their winning streak to four games in dramatic fashion with a doubleheader sweep over Ruckel’s White Sox, 9 – 4, and Roth’s Indians, 21 – 6.  Sitting at 4 – 2, the Royals now find themselves in a logjam with five other teams, all tied for the best record in the division and vying for divisional supremacy.

Waggoner’s stellar outing included a walk, a single, three doubles, a triple, and a homerun, scored four runs, and drove in eight in the twin bill.  But the heroics didn’t end there. 

If there was an award given to a player who truly stepped up this week, it would undoubtedly go to Royals’ left fielder, Ryan Greenberg.  Greenberg’s outstanding performance saw him going 4 – 5, scoring two runs, and driving in an impressive six runs during the doubleheader.  Notably, three of his four hits, and four of his six RBIs came during critical moments with two outs, demonstrating his unwavering composure and clutch performance under pressure.  Amidst the swirling vortex of chaos caused by the high winds, Greenberg played lockdown left field, further solidifying his invaluable contribution to the team's success.

In the opener, with a stiff 17 mph wind blowing from right field to left field, Royals’ pitcher, Scott Greenberg outdueled White Sox’ Ace and former Royal, Matt Ruckel in a low-scoring affair on field 4.  Despite facing a formidable opponent, Greenberg showcased remarkable poise, scattering 14 singles over seven innings.  However, what truly distinguished his performance from impressive to extraordinary was his impeccable control, as he issued zero walks in the midst of exceptionally challenging meteorological conditions.

The visiting Royals took an early lead in the top of the first inning, scoring three runs.  Back-to-back walks to Ronel Martinez and Scott Greenberg preceded Waggoner’s 2-run double, while Kyzer Hoover’s RBI single made it 3 – 0.

The White Sox retaliated fiercely and quickly, scoring four runs in the bottom of the frame, spearheaded by the formidable trio of Ruckel, Lee McDonald, and Miguel Duron to take a 4 – 3 lead.  From that point on, Greenberg settled down and – in one of the most dominant pitching performances of the young season – held the formidable, power-laden White Sox lineup scoreless for the next six innings with pinpoint precision and unwavering resolve.

In the pivotal sixth inning – with the Royals clinging to a precarious 8 – 4 lead and the game hanging in the balance – Royals’ third baseman, Andy Wetterlin, and catcher, Aaron Bartelson combined to make the defensive play of the year.  With the bases loaded and nobody out, Duron stepped up to the plate with a chance to level the score with one swing of the bat.  Representing the tying run, Duron narrowly missed a grand slam to left field on a 2 – 2 pitch that was just barely foul.  Two pitches later, the tension was palpable as Greenberg delivered a full-count pitch to the White Sox slugger.  Duron launched a blistering line drive clocked at 98.6 mph off the bat toward left field that Wetterlin miraculously short-hopped, ran toward third, stepped on the bag, and threw home.  Bartelson leaped into the air, snagging the high throw and coming down on home plate just as the runner from third crossed the commitment line, completing the game-changing, game-saving 5–2 double play.

Game 1 Offensive Stars

Kyzer Hoover  2 – 3, 1 Run, 2 RBI, 2B
Drew Waggoner  1 – 3, 2 Runs, 2 RBI, BB, 2B
Ryan Greenberg  1 – 2, 2 RBI
Scott Greenberg  1 – 2, 1 Run, 1 RBI, 2 BB
Aaron Bartelson  2 – 3, 1 Run, 2B

In the nightcap, the Royals traveled to field 2 to take on the short-handed Indians, where a reversal in the crosswind saw it blowing steadily from left to right field, and picking up strength.  Despite a lopsided defeat to the Angels in their earlier matchup, the Indians entered the matchup with renewed vigor, quickly seizing a 4 – 0 lead after one-half inning. 

However, the Royals wasted no time in mounting a fierce response, matching the Indians with four runs of their own in the bottom of the first.  With one out, Scott Greenberg singled and scored when Waggoner crushed a homerun to left centerfield.  The ball was struck with such power that it cleared the fence before reaching the peak of its trajectory.  Hoover’s walk and David Fiorello’s double set the stage for Ryan Greenberg’s clutch, 2-out, 2-run single, evening the score at 4 – 4.

The Indians managed to retake the lead with a run in the top of the second inning, but Waggoner once again proved to be the Royals’ saving grace with a crucial 2-run double, igniting a 3-run surge for the Royals.

The turning point in the game arrived in the third inning when the resilient Indians threatened with runners at first and second and only one out.  Former Royal, Jonathan Braun stepped to the plate and drove a double to the wall in center field.  The runner on second scored easily, pulling the Indians to within one, 7 – 6.  In a heart-stopping play, as the runner on first raced around the bases – carrying the tying run – Waggoner fielded the ball, turned, and fired a strike to Hoover, who then turned and launched a missile toward home plate, where Bartelson caught the ball milliseconds before the runner could score for the incredible 8–6–2 putout and preserving the Royals’ lead.

The Royals removed all doubt about the outcome of the contest in the bottom of the third as they unleashed a relentless offensive onslaught.  Sending 19 batters to the plate, the Royals cycled through their lineup for the third time this season, scoring an astonishing 13 runs.  Remarkably, seven of their 13 runs scored with two outs as the Royals pounded out 12 hits, drew three bases on balls, and kept the line moving.  Waggoner’s bases-clearing triple was complemented by 2-run singles from Ryan Greenberg, Wetterlin, and Fiorello.  Notably, Ryan, Fiorello, Wetterlin, and Adwild Perez earned the distinction of going a perfect 2 – 2 in the inning as Waggoner (3 RBI), Ryan (3 RBI), Wetterlin (3 RBI), and Fiorello (2 RBI) combined to drive in 11 of the 13 runs.

The game ended after four innings by virtue of the run rule, with the Royals up by 15.

Game 2 Offensive Stars

Drew Waggoner  4 – 4, 2 Runs, 6 RBI, (2) 2B, 3B, 2-run HR
Ryan Greenberg  3 – 3, 2 Runs, 4 RBI, 2B
David Fiorello  3 – 3, 3 Runs, 2 RBI, 2B
Adwild Perez  3 – 3, 2 Runs, 2B
Scott Greenberg  1 – 1, 4 Runs, 1 RBI, 3 BB
Kyzer Hoover  1 – 1, 3 Runs, 1 RBI, 2 BB
Andy Wetterlin  2 – 3, 2 Runs, 3 RBI
Aaron Bartelson  2 – 3, 1 Run, 1 RBI
Tommy Apligian  1 – 3, 1 Run, 1 RBI, BB

As the wind subsided and the dust settled on another exhilarating doubleheader, the Royals emerged not only victorious on the scoreboard but also fortified in spirit.  Their ability to weather the storm together, both literally and metaphorically, exemplifies the essence of teamwork and resilience.  With each player contributing their unique strengths and rallying behind one another, the Royals proved once again that when united, they are an unstoppable force capable of overcoming any challenge that comes their way.  As they look ahead to next week, they carry with them the lessons learned from these battles, ready to face whatever obstacles may arise, knowing that together, they are stronger than any gust of wind or opposing team.

Hungry Dogs Run Fast:  Waggoner, Greenberg Lead Total Team Effort in Royals’ Doubleheader Sweep