Kansas City took down Texas in a 10-1 victory tonight, averting a sweep in the first iteration of the Dayton Moore classic. It was a belligerent offensive showing accompanied by a strong start by Brad Keller.
Some good things happened in the first inning. Bobby Witt Jr. laced a single at 104.3 mph and later stole second. Some bad things also happened. MJ Melendez led off the game by whiffing on three straight pitches. That was his 18th strikeout in 44 plate appearances. The Royals also didn’t score, obviously.
Keller started off well enough by getting Marcus Semien on a lineout and punching out Josh H. Smith, but Nathaniel Lowe took Keller yard to put the Rangers on the board. It wasn’t a terrible pitch, a high fastball at 93.3 that probably wasn’t a strike. Credit to Lowe for getting on top of it enough to hit it out.
The Royals struck back in the second as the BABIP Gods finally did them a favor. After a Kyle Isbel hard groundout, Franmil Reyes did something I did not have on my bingo card by legging out an infield single. Following a Michael Massey strikeout, Edward Olivares hit a chopper toward third that Josh Jung booted. It was ruled a hit because official scorers these days seem very reluctant to give out errors at times. Anyway, Nicky Lopez followed with a liner up the middle to score the tying run. Melendez then wasted no time shaking off that first inning K, roping a double to the right-center gap on the first pitch he saw from Eovaldi to give the Royals a 3-1 lead.
Keller did just what you want your starter to do after taking the lead, working around a Brad Miller double to hold Texas scoreless in the second. In the top of the third, Vinnie Pasquantino extended the Royals lead when he got an absolute pie from Eovaldi and deposited it in the right-center seats. 4-1 Kansas City.
After another scoreless inning from Keller, the Royals managed to mount a two-out rally in the fourth. Lopez dunked one into shallow left for his second knock of the game and managed to turn it into a hustle double, and Melendez pulled a grounder through the right side of the infield to bring him home. Witt then sprayed a fastball away down the right field line that, thanks in part to shoddy hands and a poor throw from Adolis García, scored Melendez and allowed Witt to cruise into third with a triple. The inning ended two pitches later when Pasquantino hit an absolute laser right into the glove of García, but Kansas City was in control with a 6-1 lead.
Not content with a five-run lead, the Royals rallied again in the seventh. With Taylor Hearn pitching his second inning of the night, Witt dunked one into right to lead off the inning and promptly swiped second. Pasquantino followed with a walk, but Bobby thought “that whole stealing thing is fun, let’s do it again” and took third. After a Salvador Perez popup, Isbel walked to load the bases. Reyes quickly went down 0-2, but he managed to pull a high fastball into left to score a run. Massey and Olivares followed with consecutive singles - a liner and a bloop into center, respectively - to push the lead to 10-1. Kansas City nearly batted around, but Melendez struck out with runners on second and third to end the inning.
Keller came oh so close to completing seven innings tonight. He struck out Jung and Robbie Grossman for the first two outs, but walked Brad Miller on five pitches to end his evening. He was in cruise control for most of the evening, limiting hard contact and not allowing more than one baserunner in an inning. Jose Cuas entered and completed the inning by striking out Leody Taveras. Both teams spent the last two innings just going through the motions. Old friend Ian Kennedy pitched the eighth for Texas. Jackie Bradley Jr. pinch-hit for Vinnie Pasquantino for some reason and struck out on three pitches. Perez got some action at first base. Taylor Clarke struck out Smith in an 11-pitch battle and Smith protested, thinking Clarke quick-pitched him. Ryan Yarbrough tossed a scoreless inning to close out a 10-1 victory.
This wraps up a long stretch of consecutive games as the Royals get their first day off tomorrow in nearly two weeks. They’ll be back in action on Friday evening in Kansas City when they welcome the Atlanta Braves to town.
- 10 runs scored and 14 hits are both season highs for Kansas City. They achieved this despite Salvador Perez going 0-5 with three punchouts, the only hitter in the lineup to not record a hit.
- Kansas City had an expected batting average of .297 and an actual batting average of .341. Texas had an expected batting average of .138 and an actual batting average of .129.
- Reyes’s seventh inning single was the team’s first hit with the bases loaded this season.
- Keller threw 105 pitches tonight, his most in an outing since July 6 last season. Kansas City won that game, but Keller wasn’t especially sharp.
- Witt was the first Royal to steal three bases in a game since Whit Merrifield did so on June 19, 2021.
Brad Keller: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 HR
Nathan Eovaldi: 5 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 1 HR
Bobby Witt Jr.: 3-5, 3B, R, RBI, 3 SB
Nathaniel Lowe: 1-4, HR, R, RBI