The first game
It was something of a pitchers’ duel through the first five innings. For that time period, Jakob Junis had allowed only two runs on a two-out double to Clint Frazier in the first inning. He’d walked two, allowed five hits, and struck out seven. J.A. Happ, starting for the Yankees, hadn’t yet allowed a single run. He’d only given up one hit - a Whit Merrifield flare into right in the first, he hadn’t walked anyone, and he’d struck out eight.
Junis, in the sixth inning, got an amazing defensive play from Billy Hamilton.
Billy hustle.#AlwaysRoyal pic.twitter.com/LWOkJvwIyd— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) May 25, 2019
Statcast might say he had a 60% chance of catching it but I was pretty sure it was 0 off the bat. Unfortunately, the defensive luck gods giveth and they taketh away. Whit Merrifield, in right field today, tried to make a similarly stunning catch on a Brett Gardner ball. When he missed it, it turned into a triple. Then when Gio Urshela hit a fly ball into foul territory over there Whit chose to catch it which allowed Gardner to score on a sacrifice fly. Had he let it drop Urshela would have an 0-2 count against Junis.
It would have also been an 0-2 count. Giovanny Urshela has a 43.2% k-rate on 0-2 counts this year.— Patrick Brennan (@paintingcorner) May 25, 2019
Whit Merrifield, however, made up for his faux pas with one swing in the bottom of the inning. Credit assists to Billy Hamilton and Nicky Lopez for getting on base before the swing and making it more valuable.
Wet Whitley. pic.twitter.com/4CtRzc0bEu— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) May 25, 2019
So, ultimately, the game was tied as it headed into the seventh and the bullpens took over. As you can tell from the score the Yankees bullpen decided not to allow any runs. The Royals bullpen, unfortunately, was not as helpful. Specifically, it should be noted that Scott Barlow, ace of the relief staff, was the problem. All four runs were allowed by Barlow including a two-run home run to Luke Voit in the seventh inning that went an estimated 470 feet.
Prior to this week’s action, Barlow had never allowed more than a single run in a game and he’d rarely allowed that much. He’s now appeared in two straight games where he allowed four runs while failing to escape his second inning. His ERA has jumped from 2.01 to 3.46 to 4.62 on the season, now. That’s very ungood.
Oh yeah, and as predicted, Chris Owings didn’t reach base once and struck out twice. Good thing they didn’t let Ryan O’Hearn play!
Final score: 7-3
The second game
This was a weird game. Like super weird. At least when the Royals were batting, anyway.
Jorge López had a terrible night. He managed to pitch only one-plus innings while allowing five runs. López allowed six hits and a walk and only struck out one. There was basically nothing hopeful about his start at all and I would not be surprised to see Glenn Sparkman take his spot in the rotation next time up.
The Yankees planned to use their bullpen hard in this game and they did. Chad Green played the role of opener and gave up a run before Chance Adams came in to pitch four innings and allow three runs. The Royals last real chance was the sixth inning against Jonathon Holder. Then they were forced to face the flame throwers of the Yankees bullpen; Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman. They handled the Royals with ease to finish the sweep of the doubleheader.
As for the weirdness, it sounds a lot like, “What are you doing out there, Clint Frazier?” The Royals scored their run in the first inning on a flare double to right field by Hunter Dozier. Frazier dove for it but it bounced off his glove; he still recovered the ball in time to gun down Alex Gordon trying to score from first. The Royals scored their second run in the third inning when Adalberto Mondesi blasted one to center that clanked off of Brett Gardner’s glove in center. Whit Merrifield scored on the play but Mondesi was gunned down by Frazier trying to turn it into a triple.
In the fourth inning, Hunter Dozier again doubled to right field on a flare that Clint Frazier couldn’t find. Jorge Soler launched one to right that was, believe it or not, just out of the reach of Clint Frazier. And Hunter Dozier scored. Soler scored later in the inning when Cam Gallagher dumped one into right, directly in front of Frazier. Frazier had a chance to nab Soler at the plate but his throw was just a bit off-line.
The Royals scored their final run when Billy Hamilton pinch hit for Ryan O’Hearn, walked, went to third on a throwing error by Chapman, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Gallagher. Terrance Gore was oh-for-four tonight with a golden sombrero. He generally looked as overmatched as most of us expected him to, this year. He also committed an error to help a run score in the second inning. But he did have this nice play in center field:
.@TGO7E nearly stuck to the wall and still snagged it.#AlwaysRoyal pic.twitter.com/nPTrAgtFfA— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) May 26, 2019
Final score: 6-5
The Royals will attempt to avoid the sweep, tomorrow. Danny Duffy will face off against the Yankees’ young phenom Domingo Germán. Germán has a WHIP under 1.00 and is striking out more than a batter per inning. He’s gone 9-1 in 10 games, 9 starts, with a 2.60 ERA. The Royals will either gift him a perfect game or knock him around for seven runs in four innings. There will be no in-between.