Death, taxes and wins against the Rays. The Royals came from behind with a two-run Salvador Perez bomb to win their second consecutive game for the first time in a month. It was the Royals 12th victory in the last 13 games against Tampa. After the dreadful July, this series has come at exactly the right time.
WPA Play Of The Game
I love this because it’s a little unexpected.
Yes, Joakim Soria has had a rocky return to Kansas City. Yes, he’s fallen victim to some bleeders. Yes, he’s been blistered, too. It just seems like the guy can’t catch a break. And it sure felt like, after the Corey Dickerson double to lead off the eighth, we had seen this movie before. A one run lead and Soria puts the leadoff runner on second. Uh-oh. Except Soria bared down, and got the next batter, Steven Souza, Jr., on a grounder to third. A key moment for sure because it froze Dickerson at second. By getting the out and keeping the potential tying run at second, it pushed the WPA meter over 11 percent in the Royals favor. Not a sexy play (like, say, a Perez home run) but a key moment in a tight ball game. As I said, unexpected.
Perez has clubbed 16 home runs this year. Six of those blasts have come on the first pitch. It was a first pitch that Perez crushed in the seventh to give the Royals the lead. It left the bat at 99 mph with a launch angle of 33 degrees. More rainmaker than rocket, but it was good for two runs which was exactly what the Royals needed.
How many times have we lamented the lack of Royals offense. For the first six innings it looked like it was going to be one of those games. Hell, it was one of those games. But when you get some gritty starting pitching and a shutdown effort out of the bullpen with four shutout innings, three runs can stand up. This isn’t sustainable and it’s crazy to think it could be, but maybe – just maybe – these bats will awaken and the offense can give the pitchers some breathing room.
This wasn’t Matt Strahm’s major league debut. That came last weekend in Texas. But this was certainly a baptism by fire. After Chris Young put two runners on and a one run lead in the bottom of the seventh, Ned Yost called on his newly recalled southpaw to get left-handed hitting Brad Miller. Miller stared at a pair of fastballs on the inner half for the first strikeout. Yost kept him in to face Desmond Jennings. Strahm set him up with a couple of curves before he brought the gas for his second strikeout. A tough spot and a job well done.
With the back end of the bullpen in a bit of disarray at the moment, Strahm will get a look to see what he can provide with an eye to the future. The arm action was good, the separation of the breaking ball and the fastball was strong, and his ability to be thrown into a difficult situation and get out unscathed was inspiring. And the interview of the Strahm family post strikeoutapalooza was charming for their North Dakota accents. Only they were so choked up by the moment (which really was wonderful) we didn’t get to hear enough. That’s OK. Based off this appearance, we’ll get more Strahm.
The Royals continue to celebrate all things Tampa on Wednesday as they face off in the third game of this four game series. Edinson Volquez takes the mound against Jake Odorizzi at 6:10 Central. Read about the match-ups in our series preview.