Kohei Arihara had to be feeling pretty good as he started the fifth inning. Up to that point his team had provided him with four runs and he had kept the Royals scoreless and far from any potential rallies. Then Michael A. Taylor, hero of Thursday’s game, stepped to the plate.
Home runs are sometimes called “Rally Killers” but Taylor’s bomb to dead center lit a fire under the previously lifeless Royals lineup. Kyle Isbel tripled to center with some help from the sun, Hanser Alberto doubled to drive him in, Nicky Lopez singled on a bunt, and Whit Merrifield drove in another run on a ground out. Suddenly, the Royals were only down by one.
In the next inning, Taylor did it again. The heart of the Royals order loaded the bases and Taylor smacked a double to right for a pair of RBIs to give the Royals a lead they would only ever extend. Isbel, Merrifield, and Santana all drove in runs in the inning and before the sixth was over the Royals had achieved double-digit scoring for the second time in as many games.
Mike Minor had a sort of iffy day as the Royals starter. He earned the win while striking out six and allowing only six runners in six innings. Unfortunately for him, the Rangers managed to bunch those base runners together in the first and third innings to score a pair of runs each time. That includes Joey Gallo’s first home run of the season in the first inning. It wasn’t a great start for Minor, but with the offense hitting like it is it was plenty good enough.
From the bullpen, Jakob Junis made his first appearance of the season and struck out a pair in a scoreless seventh. Jake Brentz made his major league debut and struck out one but also allowed two runners in two-thirds of an inning before being replaced by Jesse Hahn who struck out his batter to preserve Brentz’s 0.00 ERA. Josh Staumont, the last reliever on the big league roster to get into a game, pitched a scoreless ninth to close things out.
Whit Merrifield tacked on the extended car warranty of insurance runs with a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth.
The Royals are averaging 12.5 runs a game so far. If they somehow found a way to maintain that average it seems likely that they’d win almost every contest for the remainder of the year. Beyond that, the Royals are showing something they haven’t had for a couple of seasons: resiliency. In both games they’ve played this year, they have found themselves in large holes early in the game but fought their way back.
They’re able to do this in large part because the lineup lasts longer. Last year the bottom three or four spots in the order where were rallies went to die. Now that’s where the rallies are getting started. Michael A. Taylor and Kyle Isbel are both on fire to start the year, Hanser Alberto looks like the kind of utility infielder you can give a couple starts a week without conceding games by default, and even Nicky Lopez has found a way to get a few hits.
It’s anyone’s guess how long this will last; it seems Texas might not have very high-quality pitchers compared to other big league teams. Even if that’s true, at least the Royals are performing the first step of being competitive: beating up on the bad teams.
The Royals will go for the series sweep tomorrow afternoon. RHP Brady Singer will make his first start of 2021. This is his second big-league season; he pitched to a 4.08 ERA last year and seemed to improve every single game. He will be countered by RHP Jordan Lyles. The 30-year-old journeyman pitched for Texas in 2020, too, and accumulated a 7.02 ERA.