Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the Royals put together an epic comeback to beat the Oakland A’s at Kauffman Stadium.
It was a poetic way to celebrate Dayton Moore’s promotion to club president, as the Royals paid homage to the way that Dayton’s greatest teams loved to win baseball games. They were down 6-0 halfway through the third inning, but it was all Kansas City after that, capped by a titanic home run from Salvador Perez that put the Royals ahead for good.
We begin with Jackson Kowar, who was absolutely awful. It was clear from the beginning that Kowar had zero command, as four of the first eight men he reached walked. Kowar got three outs and gave up five runs, which is, well, bad. By the time Mike Matheny went out and got Kowar, it was 5-0 A’s with no outs in the second inning. Ervin Santana did a really nice job getting out of Kowar’s mess without any further damage, so it really could have been worse.
Kowar’s final line: 1+ inning(s? not sure what the proper grammar here is), three hits, four walks, five runs, 39 pitches.
Kowar has now started five games for the Royals, and four of them have been absolutely awful. His ERA is over 11. He’s walked almost as many batters this year (15) as he has strikeouts (16). He has a couple more starts this year, so hopefully he can find some command before he likely opens 2022 in the starting rotation.
The A’s got a sixth run in the third off Ervin Santana, but the Royals went to work in the home half of the frame. Kyle Isbel doubled. Whit Merrifield singled him in (6-1). Salvador Perez singled in Merrifield two batters later (6-2). Adalberto Mondesi hit into a run-scoring fielder’s choice with the bases loaded (6-3). The next inning, Hunter Dozier hit a solo home run, making it 6-4.
Oakland scored one in the fifth to go up 7-4, but Kyle Isbel started another rally in the sixth, as he, Merrifield, and Nicky Lopez, who all had three hits, all singled consecutively to make it 7-5. This was where Salvador Perez stepped up and, as if there was any doubt, absolutely demolished a fastball that stayed out over the heart of the plate for a three-run home run. The ball bounced off the base of the Royals’ Hall of Fame in left field. It’s No. 43 of the season for Perez, who moved within five of tying Jorge Soler’s club record.
Perez needs five homers to tie Soler and six to pass him. The Royals have 18 games left. It’s not particularly likely, but it’s definitely in play.
Kyle Isbel finished off a brilliant night by hitting his first big-league homer in the seventh, a two-run shot into the right-field corner, to make the lead 10-7. As a team, the Royals had 14 hits - 11 of which came from Isbel, Merrifield, Lopez, and Perez. Merrifield is hitting .324 over his last 33 games. Lopez is over .300 on the season now. They’ve been such a good 1-2 in the lineup all year. And considering how badly this team needs a center fielder that can hit, Isbel gives me some hope that help may be on the horizon in that department.
The bullpen did a really nice job, especially considering they needed to get 24 outs as a unit. Santana only giving up one run in his two innings of work was super impressive. Joel Payamps gave up a run in his two frames, but Jake Brentz, Domingo Tapia, and Josh Staumont put together a scoreless run of innings in the 6th, 7th, and 8th.
Scott Barlow entered in the ninth and promptly started his night with consecutive walks. He fell behind Yan Gomes 2-0, but he then got a double play to pour water on the fire he started. He was able to get out of the frame unscathed for his 13th save of the season.
The Royals are 66-78. They need to go at least 7-11 in their last 18 games to avoid a 90-loss season.
Tomorrow: game two of the series, with Mike Minor and old friend Sean Manaea squaring off at 7:10 pm.