The Royals didn’t have a lot of wins in 2022 (65 if you’re counting at home), but they did have a few that stood out as more fun than the others. Here are the top Royals games of 2022.
April 7 vs. Cleveland - Bobby wins it in Opening Day debut
We had to wait an extra week for Opening Day due to the lockout, but Royals finally got to see the debut of top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. at Kauffman Stadium on April 7. Zack Greinke held the Guardians in check over 5 2⁄3 innings and the bullpen did its job, but the game remained tied 1-1 into the eighth inning. Michael A. Taylor led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Nicky Lopez. Whit Merrifield struck out and it looked like the Royals might strand Taylor, but Bobby Witt Jr. stepped up and collected his first MLB hit, a double off Triston McKenzie to score what would be the game-winning run in a 3-1 victory.
May 3 vs. St. Louis - MJ’s debut, Bobby’s first home run
This year was all about youth, and Royals fans got a glimpse of the future on May 3 against the Cardinals. Bobby Witt Jr. golfed a Dakota Hudson pitch into the seats in left field for his first big league home run (which outfielder Harrison Bader promptly threw back into the fountain?) MJ Melendez also made his big league debut, going 1-for-3 with a walk in the 7-1 Royals victory.
May 15 at Colorado - The Royals blow a huge lead, but come back to win it
No lead is safe in Colorado, and both the Royals and Rockies proved that in the rubber match of their May series. Emmanuel Rivera, Whit Merrifield, and Bobby Witt Jr. all homered to help the Royals build a 6-0 lead. With Daniel Lynch tossing goose eggs over 5 1⁄3 innings, it seemed the Royals would cruise to victory. But Amir Garrett had trouble finding the plate and Taylor Clarke had trouble getting anyone out, and before you could blink the Rockies had stormed back with a seven-run inning to take the lead. In the ninth, Rockies closer Daniel Bard had his own command issues, walking two to load the bases. That brought up Salvador Perez, and would come up big with a two-run single to put the Royals back on top for good in the 8-7 victory.
July 8 vs. Cleveland - Michael A. Taylor walks it off
Cleveland has a vaunted pitching staff, but on July 7 it looked like Brady Singer could match Aaron Civale for the first six innings. The game was tied 1-1 into the seventh, but Jose Ramirez continued to terrorize the Royals by leading off with a double. Franmil Reyes homered to give Cleveland a 3-1 lead. The Royals were able to tie things up in the eighth when Whit Merrifield smacked a two-run home run off reliever Eli Morgan. Then in the ninth, it was rookie Vinnie Pasquantino who led the inning off with his first MLB double. Michael A. Taylor would drive home pinch runner Edward Olivares with a walk-off single for the 4-3 victory.
July 14 at Toronto - The replacement players win north of the border
The Royals were without ten players when they traveled to Toronto in July due to vaccination requirements, but the replacement players proved up to the task in the series opener against the Blue Jays. With a lineup full of rookies, including Nate Eaton and Nick Pratto, the baby Royals collected 12 hits, including the first home run for Eaton. Rookie Angel Zerpa was sharp over five innings in a 5-1 win that seemed to breathe new life into the clubhouse.
July 31 at New York Yankees - Royals battle back against Benny and the Yanks
The Royals traded Andrew Benintendi to the Yankees just as the team was headed to the Bronx for a weekend series. It was looking like a four-game sweep with the Royals trailing on the Sunday game 6-4 going into the eighth inning. Hunter Dozier homered to give the Royals some hope as they faced closer Clay Holmes in the ninth. With one out, Whit Merrifield singled and Bobby Witt Jr. reached after being plunked. That set the stage for Salvy, and the star lived up to his billing with a 441-foot three-run home run that would give the Royals an 8-6 lead they would not relinquish. If he can make it there, he can make it anywhere.
August 14 vs. Los Angeles Dodgers - Royals snap LA’s 12-game win streak
The Dodgers were a regular season juggernaut this year, winning 111 games overall, and 12 in a row in August. But they ran into a buzzsaw when they faced Brady Singer on August 14. Singer had his coming out party in 2022, and against a lineup full of Dodgers All-Stars, the right-hander allowed just one hit in six shut out innings. Vinnie Pasquantino homered as part of a 4-0 win that ended the Dodger winning streak.
September 7 vs. Cleveland - The Royals walk and walk-off
One encouraging sign from young Royals hitters was their ability to draw a walk. They showed how that can be potent in their September 7 game against Cleveland. The offense couldn’t get must many hits against Cleveland pitchers, but they were getting some free passes, walking eight times, tied for the second-highest total in a game this year. Those walks would pay off in the ninth when the Royals trailed 1-0, facing All-Star closer Emmanuel Clase. Rookies Kyle Isbel and Drew Waters each drew a base on balls, setting up a game-tying RBI-single by MJ Melendez. After an intentional walk to Bobby Witt Jr., Salvy hit the game-winning sacrifice fly to win it 2-1.
September 25 vs. Seattle - Ryan O’Hearn caps wild comeback
A lot of teams out of contention pack it in for September, particularly on a Sunday getaway day, but young players tend to be hungry for a chance to show what they can do, and on September 25, the young Royals showed their resilience. The playoff-bound Mariners jumped out to a 11-2 lead by the sixth inning and the Royals had less of a one percent chance of winning. A two-run home run by Michael Massey was interesting, but still left the Royals far short. MJ Melendez hit a bases-loaded single, and the Mariners changed pitchers. Bobby Witt Jr. drove home two on a double and eyebrows were raised. The hits just kept coming - Massey drove home two more with a single to bring the Royals within a run. It was much-maligned Ryan O’Hearn who put the Royals on top for good with two-run double. Overall the Royals sent 14 hitters to the plate, scored 11 runs on 5 walks and 7 hits, and went on to win 13-12.
What was your favorite Royals game in 2022?
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Opening Day vs. Cleveland
Bobby’s first HR/MJ’s debut
Comeback in Colorado
Michael A. Taylor walk off
Replacement players in Toronto
Salvy’s blast in the Bronx
Singer shuts down Dodgers
Comeback against Cleveland
Wild Mariners comeback