Cain finds friendly sky after all in Royals' win

After fighting sun on defense, center fielder logs winning hit

Cain finds friendly sky after all in Royals' win

KANSAS CITY -- If there was anyone who could empathize with what Rangers right fielder Shin-Soo Choo went through on the final play of the Royals' 4-3 win on Sunday it was Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain.

Cain, who had been battling a wicked sun angle all game, lifted a fly ball to right with two out and the bases loaded in the ninth that Choo lost in the sun. The ball clanked off Choo's glove and Cain had a walk-off hit.

"When I hit it, I was thinking it was an out," Cain said. "But luckily the sun had shifted over just enough to block his view. Appreciate the sun, that's for sure."

Well, that's only partially true. Cain had a monster of a time fighting the sun all day.

Three times, Cain shielded his eyes with his glove and fought to find the ball as he made catches on deep drives to center.

Cain narrowly makes the catch

The most scary incident, he said, came in the fifth when the Rangers had a runner on first and one out. Carlos Gomez send a drive to deep center and Cain simply stabbed his glove at the ball and made the catch.

If Cain hadn't, the Rangers likely would have had a run and Gomez perched on second or third base.

Cain recovers to make the catch

"Once the ball gets in the sun, it's almost impossible," Cain said. "I was able to make a few plays, one was very lucky. I didn't really see [Gomez's ball] until the end. I just saw a black dot and threw my glove at it and it went in. So I knew what [Choo] went through at the end there."

Cain and left fielder Alex Gordon communicate throughout the game on who has a better shot at catching a sun ball. But on Sunday, none of the balls were close enough to the two for that communication to help much.

"You always call over your teammates and get them to you as fast as possible," Cain said. "You just try to block [the sun] out as long as possible, and then you throw your glove at it and hope it goes in."

Cain's fortunate walk-off single

When Cain's fly ball didn't stick in Choo's glove, he was as relieved as anyone -- Cain had gone 4-for-33 before the gift hit.

"I just went up there thinking about getting a hit or a walk," Cain said. "[Rangers reliever Jason Grilli] was kind of wild early on. I was just trying to be as patient as I could -- get a hit so we could all go home.

"We definitely needed this after losing five in a row. It's huge not to get swept."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.