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Royals split double-header with Blue Jays; 1-5, 3-2

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The Royals guaranteed that by the end of tomorrow they still won’t have lost a series.

Salvador Perez follows through after swinging his bat Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The first game

Mike Minor was unremarkable in the first game. He gave up three straight hits with two outs in the first inning to give up the first two runs and then allowed homers to Jonathan Davis - his first hit of the year, snapping a 19 at-bat hitless streak going back to last season - and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Wade Davis took over in relief and allowed a run to score in the seventh.

The offense was completely baffled by Steven Matz. Whit Merrifield led off the game with a walk but was erased when Andrew Benintendi smashed a groundball directly at the third baseman who was shifted to the other side of second for a double play. The Royals didn’t get their first hit until Nicky Lopez got a bloop single down the left-field line in the sixth inning. They scored their run when Benintendi belted a double over the leftfielder’s head.

Carlos Santana did pick up career walk number 1000 leading off the the seventh inning and he immediately picked up first base for his trophy case, too. Jorge Soler made things interesting for a moment when he got beaned but Michael A. Taylor hit a sharp grounder directly at third base for a double play to essentially end the threat.

The second game

Whit Merrifield got things started with a bang in this one, doubling on the first pitch in the bottom of the first. Unfortunately Royals arch-nemesis Tommy Milone was on the mound and he struck out the next three batters.

Ervin Santana made his first start for Kansas City since 2013. Despite allegedly being stretched out at the alternate site, there was never any intent for the 38-year-old to pitch into the fourth inning as Jake Brentz was finished warming up during the bottom of the third. Still, Santana had last pitched in the big leagues for the White Sox in 2019 when he started three games with an ERA of 9.45 but today he pitched three innings while allowing only a single run. That’ll play.

The Royals scored their first two runs in the third inning with a bit of luck. Jarrod Dyson batted ninth and slipped a groundball down the first base-line for a leadoff triple. Merrifield whacked a groundball directly at the shortstop to make the first out. The Royals, desperate for a run, put the contact play on and it almost resulted in disaster. Andrew Benintendi hit a sharp groundball to first base but Rowdy Tellez threw the ball away when he tried to come home. Had the throw been accurate, Dyson likely would have been out. Carlos Santana then welcomed reliever Anthony Castro to the game with an RBI double.

From there, the bullpens were far more active than in the first game. Brentz allowed a run in two-thirds of an inning but Scott Barlow, Josh Staumont, and Greg Holland had scoreless outings. The Blue Jays relied on Ryan Borucki and Trent Thornton to keep the game knotted before going to Joel Payamps in the seventh.

With two outs, Salvador Perez announced he was done playing baseball for today with authority.

It was the first Royals walk-off of the season and there was no question in anyone’s mind once the ball hit the bat that the game was finished. Rex Hudler recently said during a post-game interview with Salvy that they hoped to see a Salvy splash very soon. This may not have been what Rex was looking for, but we’ll take it all the same.

Miscellaneous

  • Whit Merrifield had an impressive defensive play that saw him sliding behind second base to attempt to start a double play. After review, the runner at first was safe, but it was still a terrific play.
  • Hanser Alberto played shortstop for the first time as a Royal in the nightcap and snared a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. grounder at over 110 MPH for an out.
  • The Royals have now played three one-run games and they’ve won all three of them

Tomorrow will be the final game of the series. Brady Singer (0-2, 6.48 ERA) will face off against left-hander Robbie Ray (0-1, 3.60 ERA.) The game will start at 1:10 PM CDT. Last year after 13 games the Royals were 3-10 and essentially already out of the playoff race before going on a 23-24 run to finish the season. This year, so far, they are 8-5 and in first place in what’s predicted to be a very tough AL Central division. Nothing is guaranteed, of course, but the Royals find themselves in a much better position and look to be a lot more fun to watch, this year.