Playing in the bandbox at Cincinnati, Good Heath Fillmyer showed up and stifled the Cincinnati Reds. There will be no franchise record for losses.
There are a lot of dichotomies in this statement. Fillmyer has been all over the board at times this season, and he struck out a career-high nine batters—one short of the season-high by a Royals starter, set back by Jason Hammel (May 27) when he was a starter and equaled by Danny Duffy (June 9) when he wasn’t hurt. Simpler times.
If Fillmyer was going to get banged around, having it happen at Great American Ball Park would not have been stunning. It’s a bandbox. It’s nigh-impossible to actually effectively judge a Reds pitcher because they’re forced to do so much of their work there—via ESPN.com’s Park Factors metric, GABP is the sixth-most unforgiving park for pitcher’s and nearly 40 percent higher (1.398) on home run factors.
And the Reds are by no means mashers—in fact, aside from Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez, most Reds are largely of the sub-replacement variety (see Adam Duvall cratering when traded to the Atlanta Braves). But it is their home park, where luminaries like Tucker Barnhart have an OPS above .800.
Ha. Well, Heath Fillmyer went full-deGrom in scattering four hits and one earned over 7.1 innings to secure his season’s fourth victory and continue a late-season push to be part of next season’s starting rotation.
Both teams put up a run to open the contest. In the Royals half of the first inning, Adalberto Mondesi singled, stole second, stole third and honestly, I imagine he was eyeballing taking off for home before Salvador Perez doubled him home.
The Reds equalized two batters into their half of the first when Jose Peraza swatted a homer to center. But that was really the last time Fillmyer was challenged, as he did not surrender another hit until the fifth inning when Gabriel Guerrero singled; Guerrero also was runner to reach scoring position against Fillmyer, advancing on a Billy Hamilton walk before Scott Schebler lined out to end the inning.
Meanwhile, the Royals put up a fencepost in innings three-through-seven, adding a run to their tally in every half-inning. To wit (and even Whit):
- Merrifield singled to open the third, stole second, stole third (his 40th and 41st, as apparently he was concerned about BERTO catching him) and scored on an Alex Gordon single.
- In the fourth, some idiot in the stands robbed Jorge Bonifacio of a home run by reaching over the wall and interfering. Bonifacio was given a double, with Hunter Dozier (walk) winding up on third. Alcides Escobar drove in Dozier on an infield single.
- In the fifth, BERTO led off with a triple and scored on Gordon’s groundout. Sound boring? No. Not with the World’s Fastest Man on third. Gordon’s high tapper, fielded by Sal Romano and not-quite-lobbed but not-quite-fired to first, allowed BERTO to showcase his world-class speed.
- With two down in the sixth, Escobar reached when Peraza booted a grounder. Fillmyer (!) made the Reds pay by roping a double (!!!) into the gap, scoring a still-quick Escobar who was off at the crack of the bat. Nice first career hit for Fillmyer; is there anything he can’t do (aside from make three good starts in a row)?
- Gordon homered in the seventh. Gordon is hitting .341 in his last 11 games and has driven in 18 runs in September.
Of course, the ninth inning was not without its foibles. Votto led off with a single before Gennett flew out and Suarez struck out against Jake Newberry, who replaced Tim Hill. Newberry walked Curt Casali and Tucker Barnhart worked a full count before grounding out to end the game.
Your Unusually Happy Tweet of the Game
We aren’t going to set a franchise record for losses.
Celebrate the little things.#Royals
— Pine Tar Guy (@Royalfan83) September 27, 2018
The Bright Spot: Mondesi and Merrifield stealing the Reds blind. Gordon keeps raking. Fillmyer Fillmyering all over Great American Ball Park.
The Nadir: Rosell Herrera probably thought his return to Cincinnati would go better than 0-for-5, including 0-for-4 with a strikeout today.
The Next Step: We’ve come to the end. A four-game series against AL Central champion Cleveland closes out the 2018 season at Kauffman Stadium. The Tribe needs to wins for 90 on the season; any wins against the division champs will send the Royals into the off-season on a high note. Game One features Josh Tomlin for Cleveland and Glenn Sparkman for the Royals in terms of the pitching matchup.