Well, Bobby Witt Jr. struck out again today. That’s never what you want to see.
Hmm? What’s that? He also hit three doubles and drove in a pair? Oh. I guess it wasn’t all bad, then!
The Royals got on the board in a hurry when Andrew Benintendi and Witt hit back-to-back doubles with one out in the top of the first. Brady Singer ended his scoreless-innings streak in the second when he gave up a one-out home run to Trevor Larnach. It’s hard to ever suggest a home run should have been caught, but as close as Whit Merrifield came to dragging that one back across the fence, you have to think Michael A. Taylor would have brought it back and Kyle Isbel might have had a shot, too. According to Baseball Savant Singer only threw eight of his changeups, but he was still very effective. He didn’t walk any and struck out eight, including several more on what is quickly becoming his signature pitch, the sinker in on lefties and away from righties. 42% of his fastballs ended up as called strikes or whiffs. Seems pretty good.
Andrew and Bobby got together to give the Royals back the lead in the top of the third inning. This time there were two outs and it was a single by Benintendi followed by one of those trademark doubles from Two-Bag Bobby. The Royals got their first non-Witt-assisted runs the following inning when Hunter Dozier hit a one-out single, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and scored on an Emmanuel Rivera single. Nicky Lopez reached on an error and then Whit Merrifield hit a two-run double to blow the game open. It’s easy to get frustrated with the Royals’ focus on defense and then you see an inning like the Royals’ defense probably would have prevented any runs from scoring.
Gabe Speier came on to get the final out of the sixth and struggled, leading to two more runs to be charged to Brady Singer. Dylan Coleman came on in the seventh and pitched two scoreless innings. He looks a lot better after spending a stretch of time away from Cal Eldred, throwing quite a few more strikes. Speier will probably get a vacation from the Pitcher-Killer soon, too, based on his recent weak performances.
Fortunately, Two-Bag Bobby was scheduled to bat in the seventh. With a one-out double in the books, the recently-returned Salvador Perez was able to get hit by a pitch and both runners scored on a Hunter Dozier single after MJ Melendez advanced both runners with a groundout.
In the end, the Royals were glad for every run they scored. Josh Staumont came on in the ninth to finish off the game and allowed a pair of hits and a walk to load the bases before Kyle Garlick gave the ball a ride into deep left-center. Fortunately, Whit Merrifield ran it down on the track a few feet short of a game-tying home run.
- Bobby Witt Jr. didn’t just hit three doubles, two of them were the hardest-hit balls of the game, both over 110 MPH. Bobby is not getting cheated up there.
- Hunter Dozier also had three hits, even though they were all singles, three hits is a good game.
- It was just a good day for players who have played a significant percentage of their games for the Royals at third base. Emmanuel Rivera added a single, an RBI, and a run scored to the mix with Dozier and Witt.
- Dairon Blanco pinch-ran for Salvy after his hit in the ninth and stole his first major league base.
- Two weeks ago, Witt’s wRC+ was a lowly 65. It’s now sitting at 113. In that span, he has 17 hits including 13 for extra bases. It doesn’t get much hotter than that.
Having guaranteed the split, the Royals will go for the series victory tomorrow. Zack Greinke will face off against Sonny Gray. Here’s hoping Zack pitches better than he did last time out and that Gray pitches much worse.
I really like the Two-Bag Bobby nickname, let’s make that a thing.