First, Jorge Soler did not break Mike Moustakas’ home run record, tonight.
OK, with that out of the way let’s talk about the grittiest Royals win of the year. It featured a comeback, good bullpen work, strong defense, and a whole lot of bunting. Ultimately the most interesting inning was the eighth. Meibrys Viloria led off the inning with a beautiful bunt down the third base line that Baltimore catcher Chance Sisco fielded but had no play with. Brett Phillips, who had already earned a bunt single earlier in the game, decided to test them again. His bunt was not as good but Chance Sisco pulled the throw and second-baseman Hanser Alberto couldn’t field it cleanly. Nicky Lopez walked to the plate and also bunted, though he was aiming for a sacrifice rather than a hit; he also didn’t bunt it as well as you might have hoped but Chance Sisco misfired to third, this time. Rio Ruiz couldn’t hold onto it and everyone was safe once again. Whit Merrifield drove in the go-ahead run with a flyball to center and Hunter Dozier hit a grounder to first to score the final run of the game.
Jorge López did not have a great start, tonight. Thanks to Tim Hill allowing both of his inherited runners to score, López gave up four runs without escaping the fifth inning. Anthony Santander had two home runs in the game, one off of each of the aforementioned pitchers. Despite the fact that Hill put the team behind he pitched the next inning and into the seventh without allowing another before Scott Barlow pitched 1.2 perfect innings of his own and Ian Kennedy earned save number 24 with a clean ninth inning.
Dylan Bundy and the Orioles pitching staff were largely undone by the worst defense in the American League. Yes, Bundy did allow a home run to Bubba Starling and Hunter Harvey gave one up to Hunter Dozier but the other runs came - if not because of than with a side of - defensive miscues. In the fourth inning with the bases loaded Brett Phillips launched one to center that Stevie Wilkerson allowed to clank off of his glove. Instead of an out to go with Phillips’ RBI, the bases remained loaded. Nicky Lopez hit a groundball to Alberto at second who failed to tag Phillips as he ran past. This proved to be a big problem because after he threw to first they tried to tag Phillips out at second and he evaded the tag. No error was recorded but because the Orioles could not get Philips out, Whit Merrifield’s flyball into right field was a sacrifice fly instead of the final out of the inning.
In case you’re trying to keep up at home, the Royals scored seven runs on four bunts, three sacrifice flies, and two groundouts. Even though there were five home runs in the game the little things were what made the difference. The Royals remain two games behind the Orioles for the second overall pick in next year’s draft. They’re six games behind Detroit and unlikely to catch them.
The Royals and Orioles will face off for the final time in 2019, tomorrow. Danny Duffy will make his triumphant to return to the Orioles and face off against old friend Aaron Brooks. Should be fun. At least it’s baseball.