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Bullpen magic lifts Royals to 2015-like win vs. Angels

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A lucky bounce off of somebody’s cup is a very 2015-way to win a game.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Kansas City Royals Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals put on a tribute to the 2015 team on Tuesday night. They manufactured early runs and rode the bullpen to a narrow win. Oh, and remember how exciting 2015 felt? That’s exactly what tonight was all about.

Carlos Santana provided the offense early, coming through with a sacrifice fly in the first inning and an RBI groundout in the third. Following a homer by Shohei Ohtani to make it 2-1, the Royals got the run back when Salvador Perez hit an RBI single in the fifth. Perez, fresh off his 1,000th career hit, continued to stay white-hot by extending the lead to 3-1.

Danny Duffy, fresh off a six-inning, no-run season debut, was terrific in his second start of the year. He twirled six innings of one-run ball, striking out six and scattering eight hits. The only one that did damage was the Ohtani homer. Overall, he was fantastic, and the Royals will absolutely take one run through 12 innings from a guy that was battling just to be in the rotation at the start of the year. Duffy looks focused and energized after a rough last couple of years. If he can return to 2016 form, the Royals will have a much better chance of contending deep into the summer.

Leading 3-1 in the eighth, Wade Davis came in and allowed hits to two of the first three hitters, putting two men in scoring position with one out. With the tying run on second base, Davis got two outs and Greg Holland came in to finish off the inning, which was an ode to the dominant bullpen years of the mid-2010s.

In the ninth, Greg Holland put two men on with one out, but, in 2015 fashion, he got out of it. He struck out Mike Trout, who K’d four times for the first time since 2017, to get the second out. After walking Albert Pujols to load the bases, well, I’m not even sure what happened next. Holland threw a near-wild pitch, the ball bounced off Jared Walsh’s penis (for real), and landed right in the glove of Salvador Perez. With David Fletcher stuck halfway between third and home, thinking a wild pitch was coming, Salvy threw to third to nail him and end the game.

A lucky bounce off of somebody’s cup is a very 2015-way to win a game. The Royals did it.

Duffy (2-0) earned the win. Dylan Bundy, who pitched well, took the loss (0-1). Holland went back out for the ninth inning and earned the save, his first.

Also, Jake Brentz should get a lot of credit for throwing a perfect seventh inning. He had an especially pretty punchout when he hit the corner at 100 mph. As a lefty, he feels like a future elite bullpen piece.

Whit Merrifield picked up two more hits. Perez matched him with two. The Royals, as a team, only had five hits, with the 4-5-6-7-8-9 spots in the order going 0-for-17.

The Royals are 5-4. They go for the series tomorrow in an afternoon tilt, where Brad Keller will try for a third time to get his season on track. Maybe he can lower his 19.29 ERA.