For the first time in 19 years, the Kansas City Royals and their Triple-A affiliate, the Omaha Storm Chasers, matched up in an exhibition game, facing off in Werner Park in Omaha, Nebraska. Recording one final tune-up game before the regular season begins on Thursday against the White Sox for Opening Day, the Royals were bested by the current minor leaguers, 3-2.
The biggest news of the day however, came from Hall of Famer George Brett. While being interviewed on the Jumbotron at Werner Park in the pre-game rituals, he said he was proud of Frank Schwindel making the Major League roster after such a long wait. Schwindel could make his Major League debut in Kansas City this weekend and could help add some offense as an extra right-handed bat on the roster.
Asked if Schwindel had indeed made the team, Ned Yost replied, "Go ask George."— Sam McDowell (@SamMcDowell11) March 26, 2019
Coming in, manager Ned Yost told the media that this would bea bullpen game for his pitching staff, as Homer Bailey, Jorge Lopez, and Heath Fillmyer remained in Arizona for extending spring training. Starting with right-hander Scott Barlow on the mound, Kansas City was stacked up against a mixture of former starters from last year’s team and a few of some of the young talented arms that excelled in Arizona this past month. On the other side of the diamond, Omaha would give Josh Staumont the nod, whose inconsistency in the spring kept him from finding a slot in the big league bullpen to begin 2019.
In the top of the first, the Royals struck first before some had a chance to even find their seats. After shortstop Nicky Lopez booted a Whit Merrifield grounder, Adalberto Mondesi drilled an RBI triple into the right-center gap. However, Staumont found his footing and managed to secure two full innings of work with four strikeouts and only one unearned run. For Barlow, he matched Staumont’s strikeout number but held Omaha scoreless in two innings. Over the course of next few innings, the bats cooled, stalling the offense in both dugouts. Utility man Erick Mejia dropped a two-out RBI single to left off of Wily Peralta to tie the game up at 1-1.
At the conclusion of the top half of the sixth inning, the entire starting lineup was yanked out for the last time. Exiting in front of a Werner Park record attendance of 9,351, the players filtered towards the left field exit to a standing ovation. With the reserves scattered in new positions, the Storm Chasers snagged their first lead of the night in the bottom of the seventh. Second baseman D.J Burt guided a ground ball up the middle to plate a run, giving Omaha a 2-1 lead late.
Royals back up catcher Cam Gallagher tied it back up in the following inning on a sacrifice fly. But in the bottom of the ninth, Burt would win the game with a walk-off sacrifice fly.
The Royals close the books on a rather successful spring training where they claim the Cactus League title. The next time Kansas City takes the field, all these previous stats and wins go out the door and the season starts anew. The Royals will open up the regular season on Thursday against the Chicago White Sox. Brad Keller will face off with Carlos Rodon. First pitch is at 3:15 CT.