05/03/2004 10:36 PM ET
Gobble and Guiel team up
Left fielder picks up the pieces after no-no falls through
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
TORONTO -- For a time Monday night, Royals left-hander Jimmy Gobble had a no-hitter going. Then he was one out from pitching a shutout. No such luck.
|Jimmy Gobble retired the first 16 batters he faced and carried a shutout into the ninth. (Peter Gunn/AP)
Yet the Royals did manage to end their four-game skid when Aaron Guiel's 10th-inning home run beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 3-2, draining the exuberance from 13,007 fans at SkyDome.
"A shutout would have been great," Gobble said, "but what matters is we got a win."
Gobble was absolutely perfect for the first 5 1/3 innings. Sixteen Blue Jays up, 16 Blue Jays down. That put him five outs shy of the franchise record for consecutive batters retired at the start of a game, 21 by Bret Saberhagen on June 21, 1985, against the Seattle Mariners.
However, after fielding Orlando Hudson's high hopper, third baseman Joe Randa threw into the dirt and first baseman Ken Harvey couldn't snag the errant throw. Hudson went to second base on the error.
"I just rushed it," Randa said.
On Gobble's next pitch, Dave Berg lined a single through the shortstop hole to end the no-hitter. That put runners at the corners.
"I made a good pitch and Joe fielded it and that's just part of the game," Gobble said. "The next pitch was my fault."
Gobble took a three-hit shutout into the ninth and got the first two batters. But Carlos Delgado crushed a double to right field.
"It wasn't the 0-2 pitch I was looking for," Gobble said. "I wanted to bury a curveball but I got it in the zone."
Manager Tony Pena took a walk to the mound.
"He said, 'You know this is your game. Just finish it,' " Gobble said. "Obviously, it didn't go that way but that's what I was shooting for."
Josh Phelps lined an RBI single to center, slicing the Royals' lead to 2-1. Pena went to his closer, Mike MacDougal. He had pitched just once since coming off the disabled list and that was last Wednesday night, when he recorded a save against the Texas Rangers.
MacDougal gave up a single to Eric Hinske, then surrendered walks to pinch-hitter Frank Catalanotto and Hudson to force in the tying run.
"Of course," Pena said. "That was in the back of my mind. I was worried about that. That's why I had (Nate) Field throwing."
Field was waved to the scene and he retired pinch-hitter Gregg Zaun to send the game into the 10th inning.
After one out, Guiel ripped into a 3-2 cut fastball from right-hander Terry Adams and drove it over the right-center field wall.
Ah, a comeback blow, a moment that rekindled warm thoughts of the Royals' memorable 2003 season.
"That's the kind of team that we were, but we haven't been playing like that," Guiel said. "Maybe something like this will spark us."
That held up but not before some tense moments in the Blue Jays' half of the inning. Field got one out but Chris Gomez singled and Vernon Wells walked. Lefty Jaime Cerda was then brought in to face the left-handed slugger Delgado.
"Carlos Delgado obviously is a great hitter and it was pretty exciting to get that guy to hit into a double play," Cerda said.
Yep, a grounder to shortstop Angel Berroa ended the game and Cerda had his first Major League save.
"I pumped my fist a couple of times," Cerda said. "I was excited."
Cerda had just rejoined the Royals on Monday, recalled from Triple-A Omaha.
"I just decided to bring him into a tough situation and face one of the best hitters in baseball," Pena said. "And he got the job done."
The Royals gave Gobble a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning against Justin Miller. Randa doubled to left-center and Mike Sweeney got a hit on a grounder that Gomez knocked down at shortstop. Harvey got an infield single to score Randa.
Two walks and Carlos Beltran's single against reliever Valerio De Los Santos produced a second run in the eighth.
And Gobble was breezing along. He got through the eighth even after back-to-back singles by Hinske and Kevin Cash and Hudson's sacrifice bunt made him vulnerable.
Gobble, though, just couldn't quite survive the ninth.
"When you pitch like that," a sympathetic Guiel said, "you should be able to come in the clubhouse and relax, not wait for us to come back."
But, whew, they did.
"It wasn't easy, was it?" Randa said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.