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Bullpen bullies boys in brown, feckless friars felled 4-3

In and out of trouble

MLB: Kansas City Royals at San Diego Padres Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals allowed a ton of baserunners but managed to work out of enough jams to beat the Padres by a score of 4-3 in San Diego this afternoon.

Both offenses were quiet through the first three innings. Yu Darvish needed just 32 pitches to get the first nine outs, including striking out the side in the third. Carlos Hernández struck out four and hit 100 mph five times through two scoreless. Mike Mayers made his Royals debut to start the third inning. Ryan Lefebvre and Rex Hudler took this opportunity to talk about Michael Myers. Mayers got into a bind with a couple walks in the third but, much like Myers, managed to escape unscathed.

The fourth inning was kinda odd. At the beginning of the inning, Lefebvre called out some Padres fans for playing billiards at the ballpark, while Hudler needled one of them for botching a pretty straightforward shot. Once actual play started, Witt led off the inning by reaching on an infield hit. This was the best opportunity yet for the Royals to score with a great basestealer on against Darvish, who has allowed the eighth most stolen bases in baseball since the start of 2021. Witt promptly came very close to getting picked off first base, but then managed to beat out a force play at second when Vinnie Pasquantino bounced one up to Xander Bogaerts the middle. He was initially called out, but it was clear Witt beat Bogaerts to the bag and it was overturned on replay. After Salvador Perez struck out, MJ Melendez slapped one opposite field for an RBI double.

Mayers, taking a page out of Brad Keller’s book, walked another two batters in the fourth inning after allowing a one-out single. Fortunately for Mayers, the Padres have been chronically unable to hit with runners on base this season. Trent Grisham struck out on a middle-middle fastball and Austin Allen struck out on a full-count fastball away to strand the bases loaded.

In the fifth, San Diego tied the game with a moonshot to right field off the bat of Jake Cronenworth. Mayers was pulled later in the inning, having needed 56 pitches to record eight outs. Josh Taylor was next up in the parade of relievers and punched Juan Soto to complete the frame.

Kansas City answered right away. Witt put together a quality PA and drew a walk to lead off the inning. After he stole second, Pasquantino got sweeper inside that he yanked into the right field stands to give the Royals a 3-1 edge. Perez flew out before Melendez went to left field for a double once again, this time hitting a fly ball that just barely stayed fair before clanking off the wall. Maikel Garcia brought him home with a knock to right field, chasing Darvish from the game.

Inspired by Mayers, Taylor loaded the bases to begin the sixth. Unlike Mayers, he wasn’t able to tightrope out of danger as he balked home a run. Taylor then struck out Grisham before being relieved by Jose Cuas. Cuas managed to strike out pinch-hitter Brett Sullivan for the second out, but some confusion between Witt and Michael Massey on a grounder up the middle led to a run-scoring infield hit for Bogaerts. Cronenworth walked to load the bases again, but Fernando Tatis Jr. popped out to end the threat.

Aroldis Chapman continued the team’s strike throwing issues by walking the bases loaded in the seventh. For the fourth time in the game, Grisham came up in a big spot. For the fourth time, he struck out. The Royals then got a huge break when Chapman threw a pitch to the backstop. Juan Soto came down the line trying to score, but the ball caromed perfectly to Perez for an easy out at the plate to end the inning.

Things were much less hairy for the Royals bullpen from there. Taylor Clarke pitched a scoreless eighth in which Melendez tied an all-time MLB record with three putouts in an inning. Scott Barlow pitched a scoreless ninth to slam the door, winning the series with a 4-3 victory.

Some nuggets:

  • For all their talent in the lineup, the Padres really struggled offensively in numerous ways. They went 2-9 today with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base. For the series, they went 4-23 with RISP and stranded 28 runners. They also only recorded four extra-base hits in the series.
  • For the second time in this series, Royals pitching issued at least nine walks. The Royals had lost ten straight games in which they walked at least nine batters, with the last such win coming on April 11, 2021 against the White Sox.
  • The Royals have won two of their last three series. Prior to that, they won just one of their first 11.

The victory moves Kansas City to 14-31. The Royals will take the day off tomorrow before starting a three-game set in Southside Chicago against the White Sox on Friday.

Carlos Hernández: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 0 HR

Yu Darvish: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR

MJ Melendez: 2-4, 2 2B, R, RBI

Jake Cronenworth: 2-3, HR, R, RBI, 2 BB