A pair of teams with bad starting pitching and even worse middle and long relief got together and the result was not a surprise on this night in Kansas City. The Texas Rangers got home runs from Michael Young and Brad Fullmer in the ninth inning to rally to a 9-7 win over the Royals.
Kansas City which had started the 2003 season 16-4, dropped to 7-13, while the Rangers were 13-9 and tied with the Angels for first place in the AL West. When the season ended, the Royals were 58-104 and the Rangers were 89-73 and three games out of first in the AL West, but in third place.
Chan Ho Park started for Texas and Dennys Reyes went for the Royals. Park was a free agent bust in 2003 for Texas and he stared off 2004 1-3 with a 5.19 ERA. Reyes was bouncing back between the bullpen and rotation for the Royals and had a 1.93 ERA early in the year.
Neither pitcher was good. Park gave up a home run to Carlos Beltran in the first and Reyes gave up three in the second on a Laynce Nix triple and a Rod Barajas home run. The Royals tied the game in the third with a pair of runs.
The middle innings saw the teams go back and forth with both teams scoring runs in the fourth through sixth innings. After six, the Royals led 7-6 and Park and Reyes were long gone.
Royals manager Tony Pena turned to rookie Justin Huisman in the seventh and he restored order, retiring all six batters he faced on just 13 pitches in the seventh and eighth innings. But in the ninth, Pena decided to entrust the game to his experienced relief "ace", Curtis Leskanic. The veteran was filling in for alleged closer Mike MacDougal, who was unavailable for the game according to Pena. Leskanic already had an ERA of 7.94 on the young season.
The ninth started out well enough for Leskanic as he struck out David Delluci, but Young followed with a homer to tie the game at 7-7. Hank Blalock followed with a triple to center. Alfonso Soriano then struck out. Fullmer, who had been 4 for his last 34, followed with a home run to give the Rangers a 9-7 lead. Francisco Cordero came in to close it out in the ninth and gave up a single to Joe Randa, but nothing else.
As bad as Leskanic was, he ended up pitching for the World Series champion Red Sox and was halfway decent with Boston. Carlos Beltran was traded to Houston in midseason as part of a 3-way deal that saw Octavio Dotel going to Oakland. That ended up working out OK for Beltran financially at the end of the year. Meanwhile, the Royals have remained the Royals.