In the second game broadcast on Facebook with old friend Kris Medlen in the booth, the Kansas City Royals utilized a five-run seventh inning and limited the Milwaukee Brewers’ ninth inning rally just enough to pull away with a 5-4 victory.
Before this afternoon, the Kansas City Royals had gone 19 consecutive games of complete offensive futility. The Royals last scored more than four runs in a single game—despite the major league average this season at 4.38 runs per game—on Monday, June 4. That was before Jon Jay and Kelvin Herrera were traded, and before Jorge Soler broke his toe. Before the dark times. Before the Empire.
It’s not that hard to see why the Royals haven’t scored runs. In today’s contest, five of the eight non-pitchers in the starting lineup bore a career on base percentage of under .300. Another six position players who have participated in the 2018 campaign also bear that particular statistical shame. If you make too many outs, you can’t score. It’s extremely simple.
Today, however, the Royals squeezed all of their offense together. The result was a five-run seventh inning, a single inning more potent than any of their previous 19 games.
It began with a bang. Moustakas led off and crushed his 15th home run to center field. Salvador Perez and Hunter Dozier followed that up by placing the proverbial ducks on the pond with a single and a walk, respectively. Alex Gordon singled to center field, but it was too sharply hit for the plodding Perez to score.
With the bases loaded and no outs, the offense could have evaporated just as quickly as it began. Alcides Escobar grounded out to Jeremy Jeffress, who had come in to replace Brent Suter. The former Royal decided to get the out at home plate rather than attempt a double play. He succeeded in doing so, leaving the bases loaded but preventing a run. Milwaukee then inserted Josh Hader, their ultimate trump card, to face Adalberto Mondesi.
You see, Hader entered today, incredulously, with a strikeout rate of 18 per nine innings in 40 innings. Those are seriously video game numbers. Mondesi, for all his talent and potential, has struck out in one out of every three plate appearances in the big leagues. A strikeout was all but assured in this situation. No way that Mondesi could do something, right? Especially from the right side of the plate, his weaker side?
Wrong. Because baseball is stupid and beautiful, the unexpected happened. Mondesi crushed a fastball 340 feet off the left field wall. In Kauffman Stadium, it would have been an easy double, and if it were a few feet higher here Mondesi would have had a grand slam, but Mondesi settled for a go-ahead two-run single and the delight of the Baseball Gods for upending the odds. Pinch-hitter Lucas Duda lofted a sacrifice fly to score Escobar, and Whit Merrifield capped the five-run inning with a single to score Mondesi.
Importantly, Danny Duffy did well today. Duffy has often struggled in 2018, especially considering his talent level and expensive contract. But Duffy was solid. The lefty turned in six innings of one-run ball, his only trip a solo home run smacked by Jesus Aguilar—that was Aguilar’s 18th this year, though, and giving up a solo shot to a lefty-killer like that is just part of the game. Duffy struck out seven and walked only two, lowering his ERA below 5 for the first time since April 17.
Kansas City weathered a trying ninth inning, wherein a wild Tim Hill gave up three runs without recording an out and needing a successful challenge to snag the final out, but they managed to escape alive.
The Royals are now 25-55. Tomorrow is a day off. Kansas City will next play a three-game weekend series in Seattle before coming back to Kauffman Stadium for two three-game sets against the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox next week.