7/26/2014 1:37 A.M. ET
Ibanez oldest in Royals history to triple
By Jackson Alexander / MLB.com
KANSAS CITY -- If anyone can attest to the difficulty of the assignment Billy Butler was given on Friday night, it's Raul Ibanez.
Ibanez's has often dug into the batter's box fresh off the bench in tight games, with the expectation that he'd find a way to produce.
"It's so tough, especially when you're facing a guy like [Indians reliever John] Axford, who's got great stuff," Ibanez said.
Butler slugged a two-run pinch-hit home run off Axford in the eighth inning to lead the Royals to a 6-4 win on Friday at Kauffman Stadium.
Ibanez can speak on the difficulty of these spots, having produced one of the most indelible late-game memories in baseball history. In 2012, as a member of the Yankees, he ripped two pinch-hit home runs, including a walk-off shot, in Game 3 of the American League Divisional Series.
"It's as tough a thing there is to do in the game of baseball, maybe the toughest, to come in and pinch-hit," Ibanez said.
But Ibanez's contributions to Friday's win were not limited to him reflecting on one of the game's biggest situational challenges. He started at first base for the Royals for the first time this season, and he became the oldest player in team history to hit a triple.
Ibanez, 42, roped an RBI three-bagger in the fourth inning, and scored on the hit when a Cleveland throw went awry. He usurped former Royal Bob Boone, 41, who set the record on Sept. 22, 1989, in Kauffman Stadium against the Mariners.
The 19-year veteran admitted to a bit of exhaustion after his mad dash around the bases.
"Conditioning, you train for that stuff, so it was nice to be able to catch your breath in the dugout after it," he said.
Bullpen providing sweet relief for Royals
KANSAS CITY -- Lost in the jumble of Thursday's bizarre, 14-inning win was a splendid effort from the bullpen, particularly in the extra frames.
Four relievers combined to shut out the Indians over the final five innings, setting up Nori Aoki's walk-off single in the 14th.
"I believe that we have the best bullpen in the league," said Aaron Crow, the seventh and final pitcher on Thursday. "From top to bottom, we've got seven guys out there that can get anybody out at any time."
Crow earned his fifth win of the season when he struck out the side in the top of the 14th.
"He really looked good last night," manager Ned Yost said. "For Crow to give us a zero there and allow us to score that run was huge."
Before Crow, Francisley Bueno, Jason Frasor and Scott Downs locked down innings 10 through 13.
Bueno lowered his ERA to 2.14 thanks to his 1 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out three and allowing no hits.
"He's had limited innings the last three years, but every time he's up here, he's been lights out," Crow said.
Frasor, recently acquired in a trade with the Rangers, finished the 11th by striking out Yan Gomes. Downs, signed on July 6, bridged the gap to Crow with scoreless 12th and 13th innings.
"Downs and Frasor have been in the league a long time; they know how to get guys out," Crow said.
The relief corps was left to clean up a rare mess by closer Greg Holland, who blew only his second save of the season in the ninth, when he gave up the game-tying RBI single to Gomes.
"I think everyone did a great job. I'm sure Greg would tell you differently, but he's been the best closer in all of baseball the whole entire year, and nobody's perfect," Crow said.
The first one out of the bullpen was Wade Davis, who entered in relief of Danny Duffy in the eighth after seven shutout innings.
Davis escaped a bases-loaded jam by getting Michael Brantley to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
"Our nemesis over there has been Brantley. He kills us, and for [Davis] to get Michael to ground into a double play to end the inning there; that's what got lost in the game," Yost said.
The appearances of Davis and Holland marked the third in as many days for the indomitable relievers, and Yost said the two would "probably not" pitch on Friday.
The Royals survived without the duo, as Bueno, Frasor, Kelvin Herrera and Crow worked 2 2/3 scoreless innings to help secure the team's 6-4 win.
Herrera recorded the win, with Crow earning his first save of the season.
"A couple of guys probably weren't going to be available, so we knew when the late innings came around, we might be asked to do a little more than usual," Crow said. "Bueno, Kelvin, Frasor and I knew that going in, so we all came with our best stuff tonight."
Cox's induction a proud moment for Yost
KANSAS CITY -- Legendary Braves manager Bobby Cox will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday, a proud moment for Royals skipper Ned Yost, who spent 12 seasons on Cox's coaching staff in Atlanta.
"I talked to Bobby the other day," Yost said on Friday. "I told him we were all proud of him, looking forward to watching him on TV. I know he's going in with [former Braves] Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, and of course he's very proud of that. There's a lot of reasons why he's a Hall of Fame manager. He had a tremendous personality, he knew how to treat his players and get the most out of [them] and he had great players."
Yost served as the Braves' bullpen coach from 1991 to 1998. In 1999 he earned a promotion to third-base coach, and he served in that capacity until leaving the team in 2003 to manage the Brewers.
"The way [Cox] treated people with respect was amazing. He knew everybody's name in the tunnel walking from the parking lot; he made everyone feel like they meant something to him," Yost said.
Fans warned to prep for traffic delays Saturday
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals are advising fans to prepare for traffic delays following Saturday's game against the Indians, which begins at 6:10 p.m. CT.
Construction on I-435 westbound at the Roe Avenue/Nall Avenue exit will result in delays and lane closures, the latter running from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the highway.
Detours will take place north on Roe Street, west on 103rd Street and south on Nall Avenue.
Fans are encouraged to use alternate routes when exiting Kauffman Stadium to avoid traffic.
• Friday's 14-inning contest was the Royals' longest of the season and the longest since their 14-inning affair -- also against the Indians -- on Sept. 29, 2012.
Jackson Alexander is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.