Royals avoid sweep, cruise to easy 5-0 victory

Tom Szczerbowski

Not even the umpires could mess with James Shields on Sunday.

The Kansas City Royals avoided a three-game sweep at the Rogers Centre, receiving some early offense and a strong pitching performance to pick up a quality 5-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Kansas City manufactured their first run in the top of the first. Emilio Bonifacio drew a one-out walk against J.A. Happ, then swiped second base. J.P. Arencibia airmailed the throw, which allowed Bonifacio to advance to third. Eric Hosmer drove in Bonifacio with a groundout.

The Royals blew the game open in the top of the third, sending all nine batters to the plate during the inning. Jarrod Dyson led off the inning with a single, then swiped second base. Alcides Escobar then hit a groundball at Jose Reyes, which forced Dyson into a rundown. Reyes then interfered with Dyson, or Dyson intentionally ran into Reyesto draw an interference call, depending on your point of view. Either way, Reyes was called for interference, which put runners on the corners with no outs.

Alex Gordon then started the singles train, driving in Dyson. Bonifacio followed with a looper to centerfield, which allowed Escobar to score and advanced Gordon to third. Bonifacio then stole second base again, putting two runners in scoring position. Hosmer followed with a single, driving In both runners to give Kansas City a 5-0 lead.

The Royals offense did not score any runs after the third inning, but a strong pitching performance by James Shields made five runs more than enough to get the win. Bonifacio, Dyson and Hosmer all had multi-hit games, but the rest of the hitters were relatively quiet. Sometimes the Royals bunch their hits together and score five runs, sometimes they scatter them around and score one run. Still, it was nice to see the team score more runs Sunday than they did in the previous two games combined.

But let's get back to Shields. The right-hander turned in a dominant performance, shutting out Toronto for seven innings. Shields only allowed three hits, striking out nine while issuing one walk. The Blue Jays put two runners on in the fourth, but were otherwise muted.

It was a really impressive start by Shields, and I enjoyed watching all seven innings of it. I may hate the trade that brought Shields to Kansas City, but I certainly like watching the man throw a baseball.

Luke Hochevar tossed a scoreless eighth, and there was a Luis Mendoza sighting in the ninth.

The Royals return home on Monday for a Labor Day matchup against the Seattle Mariners. Danny Duffy will take the mound for Kansas City, squaring off against Felix Hernandez.

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