Heath Fillmyer hasn’t been up long enough for me to not still be regularly calling him “Hunter Fillmyer” (who Hunter Fillmyer is has been the subject of great consternation for me; I know that name from somewhere, dang it!) but for seven innings his relative anonymity didn’t seem to matter.
The Cubs—World Series champions as recently as 2016, NL Central leaders, contenders for yet another National League crown—have an offense many would die for. Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber—the ninth and seventh hitters in Chicago’s lineup—would hit, I’m guessing, second and fourth for the Royals. The talent disparity is a chasm.
Yet here was Fillmyer, who was hoofing it around the Texas League as recently as last year (Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi sounds like heaven) straight-up dominating a prohibitive favorite. The shame is he’s doing it for the Royals and not a contender, but at the same time, nothing helps solidify your place in the 2019 rotation like stymieing a contender in 2018.
By the time he was finished, the Cubs had all of three hits. And the Royals—THESE Royals—were racking up runs at an alarming rate. To the tune of a 9-0 victory.
I’m as stunned as you are, believe me.
Anthony Rizzo led off the first inning with a comebacker single that caught Fillmyer on the leg. It must have really pissed the righty off, because the Cubs didn’t get another hit until the top of the seventh, when David Bote and Tommy La Stella had back-to-back singles. It wasn’t all smooth sailing after that; he only struck out three and needed some good defense behind him, including whatever happened on that fifth-inning play when Ian Happ grounded into a force out at second, only Mondesi’s throw to first missed by a little bit… and bounced right back to Lucas Duda at first, allowing him to easily throw at a startled Happ going for second.
You need a little luck against a really good team, I suppose.
It wasn’t a super-fast start for the Royals at the plate either. Aside from a bases-loaded situation in the second—which was aided by walks to Jorge Bonifacio and Brett Phillips after Hunter Dozier led off with a single and yielded two runs via Drew Butera double—the Royals had just three hits through six innings as Jose Quintana was just as good as Fillmyer for much of the night. I know that’s a weird sentence, just go with it.
That changed over the course of five pitches in the seventh. Bonifacio and Phillips whacked singles on the first pitch they saw, bringing up Adalberto Mondesi who thumped a long home run to make it 5-0.
Since you can never have too many runs against the Cubs, the Royals added four more in the eighth. Dozier led off with a four pitch walk, followed by a Duda single. Bonifacio doubled, scoring both and advancing to third after Russell… spiked the ball in the outfield? I don’t know what else you’d call his cut-off-and-aborted-relay-attempt error.
Anyway, Phillips tripled and there are few sights in my baseball-viewing life at this moment that are better than watching Brett Phillips at a full-on sprint like a biker gang is chasing him with Mac-10s and lead pipes. Bonfacio scored; two batters later, Phillips would do the same on a Drew Butera sac fly.
And sure, it was a 9-0 game but these are the Royals and those are the Cubs—closer Wily Peralta needed to make an appearance anyway. The 9-0 is Kansas City’s largest shutout win in a regular-season interleague game (h/t @RoyalsStats).
Your Unusually Happy Tweet of the Game
You sprinkle games like that in here or there the rest of the season and it makes things so much more bearable. Young pitchers pitching, young hitters hitting. #royals
— Brock McMillan (@brock_mcmillan) August 9, 2018
The Bright Spot: Did you not hear me say “9-0?” There’s your bright spot. Not a loss.
The Nadir: Spots one-through-three in the order combining to go 0-for-12 was a bad look.
The Next Step: Hail Mary, Blessed Off-Day. Then the Cardinals come to the K. Burch Smith vs. Austin Goober
pardon me, Gomer
[taps earpiece with urgency]
apologies that’s Gomber will face off in the 7:15 p.m. (CT) series opener, Friday. If there is justice in this world, the Cardinals will lose every game.Either