For most of this game, it felt like the Royals were cruising to an easy fourth victory in a row.
Daniel Lynch started of extremely strong. He struck out five in the first three innings and it seemed as if the Orioles had no answers for him. As his second time through the lineup was winding down in the fifth inning, Lynch ran into a bit of trouble. Fortunately, the Orioles had a TOOTBLAN moment that resulted in an additional out instead of a runner at third. Let’s also not forget this stunning catch in the fourth inning that saved a run:
Things came off the rails in the sixth inning, unfortunately. Lynch got the first out but then gave up back-to-back singles. Matheny, emboldened by the success of the move in the fifth inning, sent pitching coach Cal Eldred out to offer some advice. Third-baseman Tyler Nevin rewarded this effort by depositing the ball over the wall in centerfield, giving Baltimore their first lead of the day. Lynch was immediately pulled.
Lynch didn’t make it through six innings, gave up eight hits, and was charged with four runs. But he did strike out seven and walked only one. So it was a bit of a mixed bag in the end.
On the offensive side, the Royals got off to a quick start. Whit Merrifield hit a single, went to second on a sharp liner from Andrew Benintendi, and scored on Salvador Perez’s double. After Benintendi’s diving catch in the fourth the Royals scored two more in the bottom of the inning. Michael A. Taylor led off with a bunt single and scored on Kyle Isbel’s triple; Isbel came home on an Emmanuel Rivera single.
Jose Cuas and Dylan Coleman each gave up single runs during their relief appearances to give the Orioles the breathing room they needed to finish the victory. Arodys Vizcaíno had a scoreless ninth but it was too little too late.
The Royals did threaten in the eighth inning. Three straight singles from Perez, MJ Melendez, and Hunter Dozier loaded the based with no outs. Unfortunately, the only run to score was Perez on a sacrifice fly to the track by Taylor. The shift put the shortstop nearly directly behind second and in perfect position to field Isbel’s groundball which would have scored a run in a traditional defensive alignment.
The Royals lost their opportunity at their first four-game winning streak of the season, but they can start a new one tomorrow and simultaneously achieve their first series win in a month. Brad Keller will go for the Royals; Dean Kremer is scheduled to pitch for the Orioles.