(posted by OMDQ)

Joey Gathright has played 72 games for the Kansas City Royals this season, hitting a career-high .305 and serving as the team’s regular left-fielder over the past two months, but he will always remember 2007 for a pair of big base hits.

On August 20 against the White Sox, Gathright led off the top of the ninth against Chicago closer Bobby Jenks. At the time, Jenks had retired 41 consecutive batters, matching the record originally set by San Francisco’s Jim Barr in the early 1970s. A career .265 hitter, Gathright turned on a Jenks offering and crushed a 67-hopper that found the hole between third and short, ending the streak and leaving Barr’s name in the books as a co-owner.

And he wasn’t done. On Saturday, with the Royals and Indians tied 3-3 and Cleveland needing a win to have a chance at homefield advantage in the playoffs, Gathright’s eighth inning single scored Justin Huber with the eventual winning run. THAT hit came on the heels of another big play earlier in the game in which he threw a runner out at home to preserve what was at that point a 3-2 Royals lead.

It’s a cliche to suggest that when teams are eliminated from the postseason, either mathematically or philosophically, they suddenly gain some greater sense of purpose and unite to play the largely mythical role of “spoiler.” Most of the time, that’s a load of crap. Teams that are far out of the race at this point are more concerned with going home and ending an awful season than with helping another team’s fortunes. As far as individual effort goes, however, I feel quite comfortable labeling Joey Gathright an official Spoiler. He’s earned it.

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