In today’s gamethread it was mentioned that Jason Hammel has been the Royals’ most consistent starting pitcher, this season. He continued that trend with a text-book definition quality start, today. To his credit even the runs he did give up were a bit more context-sensitive than normal. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
For his part Danny Salazar did not have a good game. He ended up allowing a career-high 12 hits in 4.2 innings pitched. It was a bit surprising and disappointing that he gave up as few runs as he did.
In the bottom of the second the Royals got a bit of payback for all the hard-hit outs of last night. Moose led off with a walk. Jorge Bonifacio, in the lineup for Alex Gordon, hit a double over Bradley Zimmer’s head and quickly there were men at second and third with nobody out. Alcides Escobar extended his hitting streak to twelve games with a flare into the LoCain Triangle and an RBI. That was the Royals’ first lead of the series. Cheslor Cuthbert struck out swinging but Cam Gallagher came through with a popup into center field for which Bradley Zimmer dove but couldn’t quite catch to extend the Royals’ lead to 2-0. That would become important rather quickly.
Bradley Zimmer redeemed himself in the top of the third by leading off with a bunt hit to break up Hammel’s bid for a no-hitter. One out later The Royals had a shot at a foul popup from Francisco Lindor but whiffed on it when Gallagher and Cuthbert seemed to be confused about who should take charge on the play. Two pitches later Lindor hit it off the foul pole in right field to tie the game.
The trouble kept coming in the fourth inning when Jay Bruce managed to work an 0-2 count to 2-2 before squaring up a pitch into center field for a single. Carlos Santana followed with a single of his own that sent Bruce to third. Jason Hammel convinced Austin Jackson to hit a weak fly ball into left which was almost too weak; Melky Cabrera charged hard and made a shoelace catch. Unfortunately he was so off-balance from the catch he had no opportunity to throw out Bruce who had tagged up and scored on the play to give Cleveland the lead.
The Royals, as they are wont to do when they’re going good, answered immediately. Bonifacio led off with a generously awarded infield single. Escobar immediately rectified that mistake by hitting into a groundball double-play. That was the bad news. The good new is that Cheslor Cuthbert unloaded on an 0-2 pitch, sending it deep to left field to re-tie the game.
In the bottom of the fifth the Royals resumed their assault against Salazar. Hosmer led off the inning with a single to right. Melky and Moose flew out but Boni hit another single, his third hit of the day, and Esky lined another RBI single to right to give the lead back to the Royals and chase Salazar from the game. Bonifacio advanced to third and Escobar ended up at second on the throw. Zach McCallister came in and got the third out. But he didn’t do it until after Cheslor Cuthbert hit a 2 RBI single and got caught in between first and second base.
The Royals put together a little small-ball rally against Dan Otero in the seventh to extend their lead. Moose led off with a double down the left-field line, Bonifacio hit a grounder to the right side to move him over and Escobar hit a deep fly to right center to score him.
Scott Alexander and Brandon Maurer each provided a scoreless inning of relief. Kelvin Herrera came in for the non-save close out and ended up allowing a run on 2 hits with no strikeouts in garbage time.
The Royals gained ground on Seattle and are now tied with them for 1.5 games back of the Wild Card, currently in the possession of the Angels who will be joined by the Twins once they complete their blowout victory and sweep of the Diamondbacks. They have tomorrow off and start a three game series with Colorado on Tuesday.