Against literally the worst team in Major League Baseball, the Kansas City Royals found themselves down 1-0 and then 2-1 against the Baltimore Orioles. Thanks to some nice plays from Andrew Benintendi, a lockdown bullpen performance, and some questionable defense by Baltimore, the Royals came away with the 3-2 win.
There are few greater joys for a beleaguered starting pitcher than facing a bad lineup. For both the Royals’ Kris Bubic and the Orioles’ Zac Lowther, it was their lucky day, for both the Royals and Orioles rank among the bottom seven teams in runs scored per game in all of baseball. Bubic entered the game with a 5.16 ERA and a 5.67 FIP; Lowther, a 10.80 ERA and a 5.81 FIP. Both starters improved their lines after today’s performance, which saw a mere three total runs scored through seven innings.
The loudest run came off the bat of Hanser Alberto, getting the nod against a left-handed pitcher. Alberto has a 108 wRC+ against lefties in his career, and he rewarded the Royals for their start with a home run launched at 106.2 MPH.
Though while the Royals and the Orioles are both going to lose more games than they’ve wont his year, and while the Royals and the Orioles both have underwhelming lineups, let’s just say that there is a world of difference between the two teams. The Royals tied the game at 2-2 on this, ah, blast from Salvador Perez that reads on MLB Gameday as “Salvador Perez singles on a pop up to second baseman Jahmai Jones,”
Perez was certainly pleased. Enhance:
Even though he was facing, you know, the Orioles, Bubic was pretty good. His Achilles’ heel thus far in his big league career, and certainly this year, has been walks. But today, Bubic only issued one free pass in his 5.1 innings of work. The Orioles did manage to put good swings on the ball, hitting four of Bubic’s pitches with an exit velo of 101 MPH or higher. But Bubic executed when he needed to, surrendering only two extra base hits, both to Cedric Mullens. His final line: 5.1 innings, two runs, six hits, one walk, and four strikeouts.
The true difference between these two teams is bullpen and defense competence, which the Royals have and the Orioles, um, don’t. Kansas City scored all three runs off of the Orioles’ pen while giving up none themselves. Meanwhile, a very nice catch by Andrew Benintendi at the wall saved a game-tying run in the ninth inning.
Benintendi also hit the go ahead single in the eighth inning, and it was a very good day for him. With a pair of hits and a walk, his OPS is back over .700 on the year.
The Royals now stand 62-75, pushing the Orioles down to an unsightly 43-93 and ending a two-game winning streak for them (if you’re that bad, two games counts as a streak). Kansas City and Baltimore will play each other another three times this week.