I have to type this fast, because I had a full “ROYALS BLOW BIG LEAD AND LOSE” article ready and now they rallied and won and I have to throw something together in a hurry.
Sunday was a roller coaster of a game for the Royals. They went from up 6-0 to down 7-6 before rallying in the ninth and winning, 8-7, thanks to Salvador Perez coming through with a clutch two-run single.
The 6-0 lead was built with home runs from Emmanuel Rivera (1st), Whit Merrifield (2nd), and Bobby Witt Jr. (3rd). Hunter Dozier continued his nice series with a couple more hits. Daniel Lynch pitched very well, throwing 5.1 shutout innings. The Rockies were held to just four hits in the first six innings of play.
Then came the seventh inning. Here’s what giving up seven runs with a 6-0 lead looks like: single, out, walk, walk, single (6-2), single (6-3), error (6-4), single, single (6-6), sac fly (7-6). Three different pitchers contributed to this mess, including Amir Garrett walking back-to-back hitters with a 6-0 lead and Taylor Clarke staying in 15 batters too long while failing to get anybody out. Mike Matheny, who had a brutal weekend, put him in the game with a 6-2 lead and watched the first five men Clarke faced reach base. He still didn’t yank him.
Matheny did make up for some of that with two really good pinch hit decisions in the ninth. Staring down the barrel of the most humiliating loss of the year, pinch hitter Andrew Benintendi worked a walk, Ryan O’Hearn (who is actually a decent pinch hitter, I guess?) came off the bench to get a hit, and Michael A. Taylor worked a walk. From there, it was Sal Perez coming through with a two-run single, flipping a 7-6 deficit into an 8-7 lead.
All hell was about to break loose had the Royals not rallied for that win, too. That seventh inning was dark.
There were plenty of positives today, and this weekend, as this was the first time since the last week of April that they won a series. They had lost four series in a row before getting two of three in Colorado, and they scored 22 runs in three games to (hopefully) jump-start the offense. Hunter Dozier had eight hits in three games. Whit Merrifield hit a couple of home runs and looked a bit more like himself. Bobby Witt Jr. has now homered in consecutive days. Ryan O’Hearn had a homer and a couple of hits! Even Carlos Santana... er, wait, no he still sucks and did nothing of value, but you can’t win ‘em all!
Also, Daniel Lynch! He did a great job, throwing 5.1 shutout innings before being lifted in the sixth. He’s been the shiniest light of the young starters this year by miles - mainly because Bubic and Hernandez have been/will be demoted and Singer is in Omaha. Hopefully Cal Eldred doesn’t get too close to Lynch as he continues to ascend. He looked great. I’m still worried that he’s not getting enough swings and misses, but his stuff looks awesome. If they’re going to really become competitive soon, it’s hard to see a path to it without Lynch becoming a top-of-the-rotation kind of starter.
Scott Barlow, by the way, was cold as ice coming in for that ninth inning. He slammed the door with a 1-2-3 inning, overwhelming the Rockies to earn the save. Ice water in his veins.
Let’s be real. O’Hearn and Santana shouldn’t be on this roster and guys like MJ Melendez and Kyle Isbel need to be playing every day. If you’re going to be bad, at least be bad while playing the young guys. They’ve still scored the second-fewest runs of anyone in baseball - 23 less than the Cincinnati Reds of all teams, who are losing on purpose! Changes need to be made, but it was a good weekend for this squad. Hopefully they can carry some of that momentum over, because Sunday felt like a big moment.
The Royals are 12-20. This is a winnable division - a good week and they’re right back in the thick of it! But it’s easier said than done, because this roster does have big holes on it. They’ll next get the Chicago White Sox in town for a rare five-game series, beginning tomorrow night.