The Royals only won 58 games this year, so we really have to cherish each victory. But some wins stood out better than others. Let’s continue our review of the season by looking at the best games of the year.
March 28 - Opening Day against the White Sox
For one day, the Royals were in first place! Everything went right on Opening Day. Brad Keller was outstanding, tossing seven shutout innings, allowing just two hits and showing his rookie season was no fluke. Adalberto Mondesi showed how speed could be an asset, hitting a triple in the fourth, and scoring on an Alex Gordon sacrifice fly, one of his two triples on the day. Whit Merrifield would also show off some speed, stealing second and third, leading to another run. Not even a porous bullpen that allowed three runs in the ninth could ruin a great win, although it would foreshadow problems to come.
June 25 - Grand Slam off Brad Hand
The Royals were once known for their amazing comebacks, which have been harder to come by this year. But they did have a pretty nice come-from-behind victory on June 2 in Cleveland. Down 6-3 going into the ninth, the Royals faced tough Indians closer Brad Hand. Martín Maldonado led off with a double, and Whit Merrifield followed with a single to make things interested. Nicky Lopez bounced an infield single that he was able to beat out to score Maldonado and make it 6-4. A single by Alex Gordon would load the bases for Hunter Dozier who punctuated a career season by slamming his first career grand slam to give the Royals the lead for good.
July 16 - Glenn sparks Royals to blowout win
Glenn Sparkman had a pretty impressive stretch there for a bit that made you squint and see him as part of a future Royals rotation. The peak came on July 16 when he squared off against the White Sox. Sparkman was sharp all night, striking out a career-high eight hitters and going the distance for a complete game shutout, the only time a Royals starter lasted all nine frames this year.
Meanwhile, the offense got going early when Adalberto Mondesi singled in the first, advanced to second on a wild pickoff attempt, easily stole third, then scored when the throw from catcher James McCann got past third baseman Yoan Moncada. Mondesi and poor White Sox defense led to another run in the third when he singled, then scored when Alex Gordon hit a routine double play ball that shortstop Leury Garcia threw away. Chicago continued to have adventures on defense when Charlie Tilson let a line drive get over his head for a Cam Gallagher double in the fifth, followed by Ryan Cordell misplaying a line drive by Whit Merrifield that led to an inside-the-park-home run. The Royals would win in an 11-0 laugher.
July 24 - Keller’s triumphant return to Georgia
Brad Keller hails from Flowery Branch, Georgia, so he had several friends and family in attendane when he faced the Braves in Atlanta in July. Keller mowed down his hometown Braves, tossing seven shutout innings, allowing just four hits and a walk. Keller struck out just three, but got 13 groundouts. He even helped his own cause with an RBI single in the second to score Meibrys Viloria, who reached on an error. Jake Diekman showed off his stuff to any teams looking to acquire him at the deadline by striking out three of the four hitters he faced, including a big strikeout by Ronald Acuña Jr. with a runner on. Ian Kennedy would record a 1-2-3 ninth to preserve the shutout win.
September 3 - O’Hearn’s walk-off
The Royals may have had a little Royals Devil Magic left for this late season matchup against the terrible Tigers. Jorge Soler would set the club single-season home run record with his 39th home run of the year in the third. Mike Montgomery had a nice start, giving up just one run over 5 1⁄3 innings, and the Royals carried a 3-1 lead into the seventh. But the bullpen continued its year-long struggles, and the Tigers would take a 4-3 lead in the eighth.
But the Royals showed resiliency. Adalberto Mondesi walked and Jorge Soler singled, and both runners moved up on a steal attempt that didn’t even earn a throw from catcher Greyson Greiner. An infield chopper by Alex Gordon would tie the game, and a wild pitch by Tigers pitcher Gregory Soto would give the Royals the lead. But Ian Kennedy ran into trouble in the ninth, allowing a Ronny Rodriguez RBI single to tie the game, requiring a great throw from Alex Gordon to get Harold Castro at home, preventing another run from scoring. But in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan O’Hearn sent everyone home with a walk-off home run.
September 21 - Ninth inning rout against the Twins
This one didn’t have the making of a blowout win for the Royals, with Glenn Sparkman leaving after four innings trailing 5-2. The Royals battled back to tie it in the sixth, capped by a mammoth two-run home run by Ryan O’Hearn.
The game remained tied into the ninth when pinch-hitter Cheslor Cuthbert laced a two-run home run down into left to give the Royals the lead. But they were far from done. An Adalberto Mondesi grounder beat the shift and allowed Whit Merrifield to score another insurance run. Jorge Soler singled. Hunter Dozier singled. Alex Gordon singled. Erick Mejia singled. The Twins made errors, they walked batters, they imploded. When the dust settled, the Royals had a 12-5 lead they would not relinquish.
September 29 - Ned’s last game
There were hugs and even some tears as Ned Yost came out to exchange his last lineup card as Royals manager following the announcement of his retirement. The Royals got down 3-0 in the first inning, but Jorge Soler would put the Royals on the board with his 48th home run of the year in the bottom of the frame. The Royals would tie it in the fourth, but a Jason Castro home run the next inning would reclaim a 4-3 lead for the Twins.
Hunter Dozier tripled in the eighth, giving the Royals three players tied for the league lead in that category. A Ryan O’Hearn double would score him to tie the game at 4-4 heading into the ninth. Humberto Arteaga led off with a double, and Nick Dini followed with a single to put runners on the corners with no outs. Brett Phillips would end the season and Ned Yost’s career with a line drive sacrifice fly to send Ned off with a walk-off victory.
What was the best Royals game of 2019?
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Grand Slam of Brad Hand
Glenn Sparkman CG shutout
Keller gem in Atlanta
O’Hearn walk-off homer
Ninth inning rout in Minnesota
Ned’s last game