The Royals won! That it, unequivocally, more fun to watch than a loss. Considering they’re still the worst team in the league there don’t appear to be any negatives to it, either. But this was not a particularly impressive win, no matter what the broadcast booth would have you believe.
First, let’s revel in Salvy’s glorious dong. He got a hanging pitch and he did not miss it.
As the Royals were entering the eighth inning the Astros finally went to the bullpen and called out Rafael Montero. Montero entered the game with a 0.44 ERA. Considering the Royals had gotten only four hits all day, it would have been fair to assume that they were done offensively. Fair, perhaps, but incorrect.
Nicky Lopez led off with a double and after Whit Merrifield struck out, Andrew Benintendi hit the ball hard into left but was out. Then the floodgates opened. Bobby Witt Jr. lined a single to drive in Lopez. Salvy launched a double off the wall in left to trade places with Bobby, who had stolen second. MJ Melendez hit another single and went to second on a wild pitch. Hunter Dozier lined yet another single into left-center to drive both runners home. Emmanuel Rivera hit a single, but Dozier couldn’t score from first on it. Finally, Michael A. Taylor took pity on the Astros and struck out to end the inning. Somewhere in the middle Bryan Abreu took over for Poor Montero but all the runs were charged to the latter, raising his ERA up to 2.11.
You might be tempted to look at the final score and think the pitching was particularly excellent in this one. However, the best descriptor I can find for it is “gritty.” Kris Bubic did pitch five scoreless innings and no one can take that from him. However, he walked three and only struck out three. He threw 98 pitches and only 52 strikes in those five innings. He was consistently missing high which was a big part of his problem during his last stint in the big leagues. You won’t find a bigger Bubic fan than myself, but he was more lucky and tough than good, today. Also, there was this:
I’m sorry, but Yordan Alvarez was safe. He was halfway upright from his popup slide by the time the ball got there. I have no idea how that call was allowed to stand. Had that play been ruled correctly, the Astros would have been up 1-0 with the bases still loaded and who knows where the game goes from there.
The bullpen absolutely did their job. Collin Snider, Arodys Vizcaíno, Josh Staumont, and Scott Barlow combined to allow no runs on no hits for the final four innings. You’d like to see them combine to allow fewer walks than strikeouts (two each) but beggars can’t be choosers, and Royals fans are definitely begging for any silver linings right now.
- Salvador Perez’s home run was his first since May 14 and re-ties him for the team lead with Bobby Witt Jr. at 7. Hopefully this is the start of one of his incredibly hot streaks that became so much fun, last season.
- Additionally, Royals broadcaster Ryan LeFebvre insisted that Salvy was due during the at-bat and must have been relieved to finally get one right, but he didn’t rub it in as much as I absolutely would have (and have done when I made correct predictions in the past.)
- Nicky Lopez just might be getting hot. After today he has hits in five of his last eight games including three multi-hit games. He’s walked as many times as he’s struck out and he even has a pair of doubles.
Kris Bubic’s gutsy performance has probably earned him another start, but he’s going to need to find the command he displayed at the end of last year if he wants to stick in the rotation long-term. In the meantime, the Royals will try to win the rubber game of the series, tomorrow. Jonathan Heasley (0-2, 4.66 ERA) will face off against left-hander Framber Valdez (5-2, 2.57 ERA.)