The story of tonight’s game is definitely Mike Montgomery. His performance this evening is pretty much a best-case scenario for what the Royals wanted to see from him when they dealt Martín Maldonado to the Cubs earlier this year. It was easily his best start of the year. He faced 24 batters in seven shutout innings and struck out 12 of them. That was a new career-high for him and puts him in some elite company among Royals lefties who have struck out more than 10 in a single game. Prior members include Danny Duffy, Danny Jackson, and Charlie Liebrandt.
Even more impressive than the number of strikeouts were the number of baserunners he allowed. The Royals have walked far too many batters this year but Montgomery walked none, tonight. He also allowed only four singles. No one reached base until the fifth inning. He struck out the side in the first and fourth innings. It was an extremely impressive start. If there was any doubt that he might stick in the rotation for at least the rest of the season this start should probably put that to rest.
The Royals didn’t get their first baserunners until the fourth inning. Whit Merrifield led off with a single and with two out Jorge Soler launched his thirty-third home run to right-center, the deepest part of the ballpark.
Just your typical 444-foot push. pic.twitter.com/WmT45Snduh— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) August 10, 2019
They scored two more in the seventh off of some stereotypical terrible defense by the Tigers. Jorge Soler greeted reliever Gregory Soto with a groundball to shortstop Jordy Mercer that he bobbled until Soler could reach first. Soler then stole second, his first steal of the year. Soler is now one of only two hitters along with Steve Balboni in Royals history with at least one stolen base while hitting thirty home runs. Bubba Starling walked and then Meibrys Viloria dropped a swinging bunt at the pitcher’s feet. Soto had a tough time finding it and then threw wild to first which allows both Soler and Starling to score as Viloria advanced to second.
In the eighth inning, Whit Merrifield led off with a walk and then scored on Hunter Dozier’s triple to centerfield when Victor Reyes dove for the ball and missed it. Bubba Starling and Humberto Arteaga walked in the ninth inning, advanced a base on a wild pitch, and then scored when Whit Merrifield perfectly placed a pop fly into right-center between three Detroit defenders to earn a two-RBI double.
Kevin McCarthy pitched a scoreless eighth and Ian Kennedy finished off the game. Neither was particularly dominant but that will happen when you’re pitching in relief of a blowout game.
The Royals will attempt to split the series tomorrow. Jakob Junis will face off against Daniel Norris. The game will start at 12:10 PM CDT.