Bah Gawd, that’s a Royals win that is!
All it took was the exact opposite of what we’d been treated to all season—namely, competent bullpen work and solid hitting lower in the lineup—but a win is a win and with it, it’s safe to spend at least one evening not worrying about the Royals increasingly worrisome future.
Royals won (?) 9-4 to even the series with the Twins.
It was a weird night. Jason Hammel pitched relief. The Royals won. Ian Kennedy sure seemed like he hurt his oblique again. The Royals won. Adalberto Mondesi drove in a career-high four runs.
Did I mention the Royals won? That was the weirdest thing of them all.
After roughly 45 days of waiting for the other shoe to drop, it was a little nice, perhaps, to just enjoy a game that seemed headed for a positive conclusion after the first few innings. Oh, I’ll grant you that with Kennedy around, nothing is ever guaranteed, but at 5-1 after two innings, things were looking up early for the Blue Boys.
How’d we get there? Well, as usual the Royals struck first in the opening frame, with Salvador Perez’s single driving in Whit Merrifield after #TwoHitWhit got things started with a leadoff double. That lead lasted all of four batters before Brian Dozier homered, because Kennedy doesn’t want you or any member of your family to have nice things.
In the second, Hunter Dozier and Alcides Escobar sandwiched singles around an Alex Gordon flyout, scoring on ‘BERTO (I’m really tired of typing Adalberto, my fingers keep getting twisted on the keyboard) Mondesi’s second homer of the season. The train kept on moving after that, with Merrifield going for Double No. 2 and scoring on Rosell Herrera’s single for a four-run frame (as many or more runs than the Royals scored in all but one game since June 28).
And yeah, that inning ended with a Mike Moustakas double play, but the bottom of the second saw Alex Gordon casually field a banger off the wall and fire, mid-bubble, to nail a trying very hard Logan Morrison as he attempted to stretch a double into a triple.
After the Twins made it 5-2 in the third—thanks to singles from Jake Cave, Eddie Rosario and Eduardo Escobar—Kennedy came out. Word is another occurrence of left side tightness. I’m not a doctor, form your own opinions.
In matters on the field, Morrison was probably pretty pissed that Gordon robbed him of another hit on a looping liner to end the third.
In the sixth, the Royals worked an old-fashioned two out rally, with Gordon (walk) and Alcides Escobar (single) setting the table for ‘BERTO, who came through again with an RBI single, his fourth ribbie of the day. For kicks, he stole a base and, after Whit Merrifield walked, looked in danger of breaking the game wide open right there. Unfortunately, Rosie only reached base once tonight and this wasn’t it.
‘BERTO had himself another highlight I can’t show you in the seventh, making a nifty backhand-and-flip combo to Merrifield at second to start a 6-4-3 twin-killing. Try to imagine it; it was really something.
After not doing anything of consequence for several innings, the ninth provided quite a few fireworks. For starters, there was Hunter Dozier’s first career triple, which scored Duda to pad the lead and was followed two pitches later by an Alex Gordon blast (exit velo: infinity) to make it a 9-2 game.
We mentioned the bullpen, and they did a great job, gold stickers all around! Six innings, four hits and two earned runs between Brian Flynn and Jason Hammel. I’ll let you guess who gave up the runs (it was Hammel, don’t make this hard), but still… this bullpen does not do six innings of shutout ball.
Okay, now the Royals are the Royals and since we know that, we know they didn’t let this game go quietly into the goodnight. Max Kepler tripled home Jorge Polanco after Polanco made the mistake of hitting a one-out single. Two batters after Kepler’s triple, Robbie Grossman singled to make it a 9-4 final.
The end of blowouts really shouldn’t be like this, but here we are.
Unusually Happy Tweet of the Game
I am digging the Mondesi/Merrifield infield combo. I would watch that for 4 more years. #Royals
— Adam Toren (@Ehud189) July 11, 2018
The Bright Spot: This one is going to be intensely personal for me, but the hybrid Williams Shift/four-man outfield the Twins deployed against Duda—of all people—was hysterical. The only thing funnier is Duda beating it. Twice. Your move, statty stat statters.
The Nadir: Kennedy’s oblique being made out of confetti and used toilet paper.
The Next Step: Lance Lynn vs. Burch Smith in the latter’s first foray into big-league starting—in fact, it’ll be Smith’s first start of any sort since 2013. I’m so excited, can you tell?
[to self, off-camera] Talking myself into Burch Smith like a common fool, my mother thought I could be a doctor and here I am trying to lie to strangers on the internet about Burch Smith…