This game started off pretty well, dire predictions from the gamethread aside. Salvador Perez knocked home a pair in the first inning before inexplicably getting caught stealing third with Alex Gordon at the plate. In the next inning, fan-favorite Ryan Goins bunted for a single after umpire review. Some people were probably asking, “Why risk using your challenge in the second inning for a 2-out single?” Ned proved he was smarter than all of us, however, when Alcides Escobar immediately belted an RBI triple to right and then was brought home by Jon Jay’s RBI double down the third base line. The Royals were well on their way to revenge for last night’s blowout.
So the Royals scored a pair of runs in each of the first two innings and Jason Hammel appeared to still have some of his recent magic left over and this game seemed comfortably in favor of the Royals. But these are the 2018 Royals. It is unwise to ever feel comfortable around this team. Hammel allowed a run each in the third and fourth innings but after throwing 100 pitches in 6 innings and allowing only the 2 runs it seemed his day was likely done while he still commanded a 2-run lead. Ned Yost decided it was not, however, and sent Hammel back out to start the seventh. Hammel immediately allowed Bruce Maxwell’s first home run of the year to center and reduced the lead to one. This also immediately dropped the character of his start from “pretty good” to “quality”. Ned then used his patented batter-too-late technique to pull Hammel for Kevin McCarthy who escaped the inning without further damage.
Tim Hill pitched into some bad luck in the eighth inning. After allowing a lead-off single he got a weak groundball that allowed the runner to advance to second. The Athletics had Chad Pinder pinch-hit for Dustin Fowler and as soon as Rex and Ryan finished telling us in as many different ways as they knew how that he was ice cold he smashed a groundball up the middle that Hill just missed gloving before it split the middle infielders and drove in the tying run.
In the bottom of the inning, Salvy decided to wake everyone up and blasted a ball deep to center. Unfortunately, the centerfield fence in Kauffman Stadium is rather far from home plate and it ended up being a 409-foot out. So Jorge Soler took Yusmeiro Petit deep to left, instead. Soler has been a bit cold but that was still his fourth home run in his last 8 games. Kelvin Herrera threw gas, made the Oakland hitters look silly, and the Royals won the game.
Tim Hill earned his first career MLB victory because pitcher wins are a stupid stat. The Royals will have a chance to win the series the hard way, tomorrow, when Jakob Junis takes on Oakland rookie Daniel Gossett.