In a late night West Coast contest against the Seattle Mariners in another Battle for Grass Creek, the Kansas City Royals won 9-0. Whit Merrifield’s two-home run, six-RBI day was the focal point for the beatdown. By winning, the Royals won their first away series of the year. Nevermind that it’s June 18th. They did it!
One of Merrifield’s comrades in this fight was Homer Bailey. Now, when Homer Bailey starts, you can be forgiven by recoiling just a little bit. The former Cincinnati Red pulled off the stunning feat of sporting a 6.25 ERA over a four-year span between 2015 and 2018. This year, Bailey has been better, but generally not hugely so.
Tonight, however, Bailey was indeed hugely better. While never particularly overpowering—Bailey only notched four strikeouts in his six innings—Bailey consistently instigated soft contact. Those that were hit hard weren’t lifted in the air, and so Bailey avoided bigtime damage. That being said, Bailey was the beneficiary of good luck in the second inning when he got into a hairy situation: with runners at the corners and one out, Mac Williamson hit a laser to Whit Merrifield, who simply stepped on second base to complete the inning-ending double play.
All in all, Bailey pitched 7 2⁄3 innings, allowing five hits and two walks against five strikeouts. He allowed no runs. It was a masterful performance.
The Royals, though, did not really need that performance, for their bats came alive early and repeatedly. Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi, and Alex Gordon hit three consecutive singles to begin the game, Gordon’s single driving in the other two. The Royals struck again in the third inning, as Jorge Soler clobbered a ball to the opposite field to earn his 20th home run of the season.
Kansas City again scored in the fourth, this time thanks to a three-run home run by Merrifield after hits by Nicky Lopez and Billy Hamilton. That seemed the dagger, as it put the Royals up 6-0. Merrifield knocked in Lopez again in the sixth inning with a deep sacrifice fly. Lopez had stretched a single into a double and advanced to third on a Hamilton groundout to get to third, a nice pair of hustle plays that is always enjoyable to see. 7-0.
To add insult to injury, Merrifield cranked another two-run bomb in the eighth inning just for funsies. 9-0, Royals.
However terribly the Royals season is going, we can take solace in two things. First, that the Royals weren’t really pegged to be any good this year. We expected it. Second, the Royals didn’t try to trick us into thinking they were good. The same can’t be true for the Mariners. Since defeating the Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 11, Seattle has been stunningly terrible; their record since then is a putrid 18-44. That’s a .290 winning percentage, a 115-loss pace over the course of a full season. What a gut punch after a 13-2 start.
Anyway, the only real downsides to this game was losing a tankathon game to a team that has a chance of passing the Royals in the bottom of the standings and the truly inexplicable usage of Bailey. Sure, he had a great start, sure, but you were up 7-0 for his later innings (and even 9-0 in the eighth). Using a pitcher for 121 pitches when said pitcher hasn’t pitched a full, healthy season since 2013 is a textbook definition of unsmart.
The Royals head for the sweep (a sweep! a road sweep!) tomorrow. Thankfully, it starts a few hours earlier than the Monday and Tuesday games. The Royals will head back to Kauffman Stadium for another series against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday.