I gotta tell y’all, Cleveland looks really bad. I know they’re missing Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor but this lineup otherwise reminds me of some Royals lineups from the bad old days of...last year. They’ll probably still win the division but I’ll be very surprised to see them go deep into the playoffs.
Jefry Rodriguez was very nearly as good as was expected. He pitched 5.2 innings and allowed only a pair of runs on five hits. He only struck out three but he didn’t allow any walks. Cody Anderson pitched in his first big league game since 2016, which is pretty cool, he allowed a single run in his two innings. Oliver Perez pitched that final third of an inning between the two, getting a ground out from Ryan O’Hearn.
Speaking of O’Hearn, he belted a solo shot in the fourth inning for the Royals second run. Dude has legit power and a really pretty swing. When he hits one out you definitely don’t have any doubts about where it will end up.
But the real story of tonight was the pitching. There were plenty of people, including yours truly, who weren’t really sure about adding Homer Bailey to the rotation. The Royals clearly needed the depth, however, with Ian Kennedy being demoted to the bullpen and Danny Duffy suffering an injury at the beginning of Spring Training. Bailey had some ups and downs in his first two starts but this start had nothing but ups. He pitched seven sparkling innings with six strikeouts and allowed only two hits and two walks.
Then, for the second night in a row, the bullpen held the opposing batters without a run. Kennedy pitched the eighth and Wily Peralta earned the save in the ninth. Neither pitcher allowed a base runner and Kennedy struck out a pair for good measure. The Royals needed that good pitching because the bats were pretty quiet. The Royals had only eight baserunners all night long.
For those always looking for another opportunity to disagree with a Ned Yost decision there was plenty of ammunition in the seventh inning. That was Cody Anderson’s first and he looked pretty shaky. Hunter Dozier led off with an infield single and advanced to second on a wild pitch before Lucas Duda was walked. None of those pitches were particularly close. With a 2-0 lead, a shaky bullpen, and the bottom of the lineup on its way up Ned ordered or allowed Martín Maldonado to bunt the runners over. Maldonado got the count to 2-0 at one point before eventually dropping a successful sacrifice bunt.
Chris Owings then came to the plate.
Anderson threw one strike the entire five-pitch at-bat, and the balls weren’t particularly close. Owings flailed helplessly and struck out swinging. Whit Merrifield picked up his teammate and manager by smashing a groundball that Max Moroff couldn’t handle at short to drive in one of the runs but playing small ball for your number nine hitter who is batting under .170 to drive in the run seems pretty dumb.
That being said, the Royals still won the game. Tomorrow they’ll go for a sweep. Jakob Junis will take the mound against Corey Kluber. Ordinarily, I’d expect a loss with that matchup but even Kluber may be no match for his own lineup’s incompetence.