On Pride Night, the Kansas City Royals defeated the Baltimore Orioles 7-5 on the back of a strong and cohesive offensive performance. The pitching staff tried to give it back, but the offense just wouldn’t quit.
If you want to take an optimistic view of the Royals, you have to start with the young core position player group. Bobby Witt Jr. has struggled at times but has been a league average bat with excellent defense and baserunning. Kyle Isbel has done nothing but hit the ball hard and has been better than expected defensively—even at center field. Vinnie Pasquantino and Nick Pratto await in the wings. They’ll debut this year sometime.
But man, it’s hard not to be most excited for MJ Melendez. Melendez led all of Minor League Baseball with 41 home runs last year, showing a rare command of the strike zone. And tonight, he was awesome, smashing a two-run home run and walking twice.
After tonight’s game, Melendez’s wRC+ stood at 129. He’s at 121 plate appearances. The league could adjust to him still, but he’s looked phenomenal. Great plate appearances, great power, a really disciplined approach. Whether or not he ends up at catcher doesn’t matter so much—dude is good.
Melendez wasn’t the only one who crushed a bigtime home run. Carlos Santana has been on an absolute tear over the past three weeks, and he crushed a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning to put the Royals ahead 6-4.
Would you believe that Santana’s wRC+ is 88 after tonight? It was 83 last year. He’s been better this year, which I would have not believed except them numbers don’t be lying. So weird. Still bad, but credit where credit is due. He’s improved so much that it’s not out of the question that someone could potentially be interested in trading for him if he keeps this up. Now, that doesn’t mean that the Royals made the right decision in keeping him. But it makes it a little better.
You’ll notice in the box score that Kris Bubic was tagged for four runs, which is technically true. However, two of his earned runs came off the bat of Collin Snider, who has no business being anywhere near a big league team right now. Bubic got some strikeouts and limited his walks but couldn’t get through the fifth inning.
The pitching is so bad, so, so bad, you guys. Even if the offense gets their crap together, the Royals are never going to win anything with Cal Eldred as the pitching coach—and probably not with Mike Matheny as the manager, either, if he’s going to insist on using subpar solutions for pressing problems.
But tonight, the Royals won because of their offense. Thank goodness for some competence. More than competence, even! They were legit good, with 10 hits on the day and more walks (4) than strikeouts (2).
One quick note about Pride Night: corporations co-opting Pride for their own advertising benefit is its own messy issue, but in spaces where machismo have long ruled—like in sports—it is refreshing to see a historically marginalized community get some well-deserved celebration. Some of you reading this very recap are members of that LGBTQ+ community. And to you I’d like to say: thank you for reading. You are welcome here in our Royals Review community.