On July 9, the Kansas City Royals were 25-65. That horrific record translates to a 117-loss pace over the course of a full season. And tonight, after the Royals closed out a 6-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, it seems unlikely they’ll even break the Royals franchise record for most losses in a season (106).
Such a turnaround was built on the backs of the younger players, those who were not on the team at the beginning of the year but who made their way onto the team at some point. While nobody really cares about the outcome of tonight’s game now that Kansas City has secured the second overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft and that there are roughly 18 Reds fans in existence, there are Royals fans who care about what’s going to happen in the years to come. And for the most part, this game was won on the backs of those players.
It began right away. Adalberto Mondesi singled to left field. The speedy youngster, still only 23 years of age, stole second base and then third base, scoring on Salvador Perez’s double. Mondesi flexed his speed muscles again in the fifth, tripling to lead off the inning and scoring on an Alex Gordon groundout. Jorge Bonifacio notched a double of his own in the fourth inning, and rookie starting pitcher Heath Fillmyer secured his first MLB hit, a double, and his first RBI in the sixth inning.
Fillmyer’s pitching was even better. He went 7.1 strong innings, striking out nine against two walks. The Reds were only able to tag Fillmyer for one run, and so Fillmyer lowered his ERA to 4.26 in 82.1 innings this year. Fillmyer was backed up in the pen by another two rookies: Tim Hill, who secured the last two outs of the eighth inning and the first out of the ninth, and Jake Newberry, who managed to navigate traffic while preventing the Reds from scoring more runs.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this game was the Reds starter: Cody Reed. Reed was the 46th overall pick in the 2013 draft, selected by the Royals, who sent him in a trade package for Johnny Cueto. While rocky today and owner of a dicey MLB track record, the 25-year-old Reed has been a good pitcher for the talent-starved Reds.
Of course, the Reds won’t end this season with 100 losses and the Royals have already achieved that figure, so you can’t be too hard on them. This was just a meeting between two bad teams, and despite the record the Royals were the less bad team.
Tomorrow, the Royals close out the season with a four-game set against the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium. They are 56-102, and need only one win against Cleveland to avoid a tie for the worst record in Royals franchise history.