The Royals have played two games and had two pitchers’ duels. The Royals didn’t get a runner to second base until Edward Olivares, running for Carlos Santana, stole second with two out in the bottom of the seventh. The Guardians didn’t get their first runner to second until Steven Kwan hit a double with one out in the top of the ninth.
Until the tenth inning, only two of the fourteen hardest-hit balls landed for hits. Only one of the balls hit over 100 MPH was a hit. All but one of the rest, despite having a 59% chance or better to become hits, turned into outs. The final hard-hit ball was hit on the ground and only had a 25% chance of becoming a hit.
Brad Keller pitched a beauty of a game, going six innings and striking out five while allowing only three baserunners. Two of those were erased on double plays. Dylan Coleman, Amir Garrett, Tyler Clarke, and Josh Staumont followed up with scoreless appearances of their own, each earning one strikeout to push the game into extra innings.
More than the stats, though, Keller and Staumont both looked like the 2020 versions of themselves. They had better pacing and looked confident and in control while they were on the mound.
Collin Snider was tasked with pitching the tenth inning. This year, as has been the case since 2020, still includes the Manfred Man rule in extra innings. So Snider wasn’t just asked to pitch in the late innings with the game on the line, he was asked to do it with a runner in scoring position from the start. And, of course, it was his major league debut. But it was OK because his infield defense had a warm welcome for him.
The first pitch he threw resulted in a routine groundball to Adalberto Mondesi. The next ball required a diving stop by Mondesi; he couldn’t get the runner at first but he prevented the ball from going into the outfield and allowing the Guardians to take the lead. The next groundball required a sliding stop by Bobby Witt Jr. and a quick throw home which nailed the runner there, after an excellent reception and tag by Salvador Perez. Snider struck out Yu Chang to end the inning.
Not on Bobby's watch!@BwittJr // #TogetherRoyal pic.twitter.com/OSPn2C39Sb— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) April 9, 2022
Andrew Benintendi had fully half of the Royals' hits, all singles. But since no one else was hitting, it didn’t do any good. In the first nine innings, only Nicky Lopez additionally had a hit.
In the tenth inning, two Royals who have taken a lot of heat for underperforming expectations did their jobs. Hunter Dozier lined a single into right and Adalberto Mondesi took the first pitch he saw back up the middle for a walk-off RBI single.
Mondi up the middle!#TogetherRoyal pic.twitter.com/nHnrJFsT5C— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) April 9, 2022
- This game saw three Royals debuts, all by relief pitchers. Amir Garrett and Tyler Clarke had both pitched in the big leagues before; for the Reds and Diamondbacks, respectively. Collin Snider, of course, made his major league debut.
- Collin Snider earned his first major league win by virtue of being the last Royal pitcher to take the mound.
- Keller’s six scoreless innings included only 69 (nice) pitches. He was, however, starting his third time through the lineup. It will be interesting to see if Matheny continues to try to keep his starters from going through the lineup a third time, if this is just an early-season thing, or if it’s just a Brad Keller thing.
- Salvador Perez, Carlos Santana, and Michael A. Taylor are all still searching for their first hits of the 2022 season.
- Salvador Perez is the only Royal to start both games this year without yet reaching base once.
- By this point last year the Royals had scored 25 runs and hit five dingers. The total this year is four and none.
The Royals are still undefeated and now 2-0. They look to start their first winning streak tomorrow as they also seek to sweep their first series of the season. Kris Bubic (0-0 -.— ERA) will get the start for Kansas City. The Guardians will counter with Cal Quantrill. Here’s hoping the Royals can take the game in less of a nail-biting fashion!