This was a pleasant game to watch. The Royals won, that’s always a good start. The game was played pretty quickly, too. And we got to witness a couple of milestones.
Alex Gordon started things off tonight by blasting a two-run bomb. It was a no-doubter off the bat and landed past the rightfield bullpen. Those would prove to be the only runs the Royals would need, tonight. But they weren’t the only runs he provided. He also launched one into the first row of right-centerfield. That last one was Alex Gordon’s 1,500th hit of his career. Pretty nice.
Jorge Soler added another run when he sent a ball into the fountains in left-centerfield. This was the first time Jake Arrieta gave up three home runs since...2015 when he gave up three home runs to the Royals - including one to Alex Gordon. Alex really likes facing Arietta. The other home runs, for those who are curious, were hit by Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez.
Phillies reliever Hector Neris put his team in a jam in the eighth inning. He came on with one out and promptly loaded the bases on an error and two walks. Kelvin Gutierrez hit a sacrifice fly to center field to drive in the Royals final run of the game. He has now driven in 11 runs in 11 big league games. RBIs may not mean much in the analytics world but they’re certainly not bad to have and one could certainly interpret Gutierrez’s ability to acquire them as at least being capable of handling the pressures of a big league hitter.
Homer Bailey had a decent start, himself. He pitched five-plus innings and allowed only a single run. He struck out four but also allowed four hits and three walks which is more than you’d like to see but it was good enough. The real story of Royals pitching tonight, though, was the bullpen.
Scott Barlow came into the game with two runners on and no one out in the sixth inning. He struck out the first batter he faced, walked the next one, and then struck out the next five in a row. It was the first time a Royals pitcher had ever struck out six batters in two or fewer innings. Yes, it is possible to strike out six batters in fewer than two innings if at least one of them advances to first on a wild pitch while striking out.
Jake Diekman followed Barlow to the mound and struck out a pair of his own in a scoreless eighth inning. Ian Kennedy closed it out without allowing a base runner. Though he did get some help from Alex Gordon, Adalberto Mondesi, and Hunter Dozier. They all made above-average plays in order to preserve the win.
The Royals will play the Phillies again, tomorrow night. Brad Keller will pitch for the Royals and Zach Eflin will go for the Phillies. If they win tomorrow it will be their first series victory since the swept Cleveland back on April 12-14.