The Royals entered this evening’s matchup against the Rangers losers in six of their last seven games. Of those six losses, five of them were one-run losses, including each loss in a four-game sweep at the hands of the White Sox. Needless to say, close games have not been a friend of the Royals in 2019.
In fact, in the month of May, the Royals had won just two games that were decided by fewer than two runs and one of those wins was a walk-off win on Sunday against the Yankees, in which they blew a 7-1 lead.
They made it three wins this evening, thanks to home runs from Jorge Soler and Adalberto Mondesi in a 4-2 series-opening win against the Rangers Thursday night.
For the first five innings, this game was painfully slow and uneventful. Starters Mike Minor and Jakob Junis traded punches over the first five innings, with a Shin-Soo Choo home run in the 3rd being the lone run.
Aside from that run, Junis put together arguably his best start of the season, striking out seven Rangers over his six innings of work, giving up just two runs on two solo homers from Choo and then Nomar Mazara in the 6th.
However, by the time Mazara homered in the 6th, Junis was working with a lead thanks to Jorge Soler. Minor didn’t exactly cruise through his first five innings of work, failing to register a 1-2-3 inning and giving up a hit or a walk in each of those frames. However, the Royals stranded six baserunners, including Mondesi being the victim of an inning-ending pickoff at first base with Hunter Dozier at the plate.
Minor found himself in deeper trouble to start the 6th, with Mondesi leading off with a single and Alex Gordon, hitting for the injured Hunter Dozier, followed with a single of his own. Dozier was removed from the game “strictly for precautionary reasons.”
Hunter Dozier left the game with right sided thorax tightness, removed strictly for precautionary reasons and listed as day to day. And that’s my first ever thorax tweet— Joel Goldberg (@goldbergkc) May 31, 2019
With runners on 1st and 2nd, Soler belted the first pitch he saw from Minor, smashing it into the left field foul pole to give the Royals a quick 3-1 lead. Soler’s homer, as usual, was not for the faint of heart, leaving the bat at 111 MPH and traveling 408 feet in what felt like a few milliseconds.
After Mazara made it a 3-2 game with his homer in the 6th, Mondesi got that run right back with a solo moonshot over the left field fence to put the Royals up 4-2. And with that, the Royals bullpen was asked to protect a two-run lead.
Wily Peralta pitched a scoreless 7th, his 6th consecutive scoreless outing. Jake Diekman responded with a scoreless 8th before Ian Kennedy slammed the door with a 1-2-3 9th. With two more wins this weekend, the Royals will get their first road series win on the season.
It should also be noted that the Royals won a baseball game in which three of their batters — Whit Merrifield, Chris Owings, and Billy Hamilton — earned platinum sombreros with four strikeouts and one of their batters — Martin Maldonado — earned a golden sombrero with three strikeouts. Here is some context for how crazy that is.
Merrifield, Owings, Hamilton, and Maldonado combined for 15 strikeouts in 17 at-bats. In 1995, Gwynn struck out 15 times in 535 at-bats.— Ryan Heffernon (@RyanHeffernon) May 31, 2019
Oh, the Royals also won the game.
Up Next: Kansas City Royals at Texas Rangers, 7:05 PM CDT, Globe Life Park. LHP Danny Duffy (3-1, 3.12 ERA) v. RHP Ariel Jurado (1-2, 2.28 ERA)