It was a pretty dreadful season for the Royals, but playing youngsters brought energy to some games with some memorable moments. Here are the top Royals games of 2023.
May 29 vs. Cardinals - Mike Mayers near perfecto
Mike Mayers was brought in as a non-roster invitee to sop up some innings if needed, and he gave the Royals some quality innings on a Memorial Day afternoon in St. Louis. The 31-year old journeyman entered the game in the second inning after opener Josh Staumont pitched a 1-2-3 first inning. Mayers had a 1-2-3 inning of his own, then another one, and another one. When he faced Nolan Arenado to open the eighth inning, the perfect game was still intact - 21 Cardinals hitters retired to start the game. Arenado would single to break up the perfecto and no-hitter, but Mayers would give up just two hits in six relief innings in the 7-0 Royals win.
June 17 vs. Angels - The Royals come back with a Samad Taylor walk-off
For at least one afternoon, the Royals showed some of that comeback gumption that made us fall in love with them almost a decade ago. The Angels took an 8-2 lead in the seventh inning and it looked like the Royals might just pack it in. But the team clawed back into the game with three runs in the bottom of the inning, and three more in the eighth to tie it up. The Angels went ahead again in the ninth but the Royals stormed back using small ball. Pinch-runner Dairon Blanco stole second and advanced to third on a wild throw. After a Maikel Garcia single drove him home to tie the game, Garcia stole second and went to third on a Nicky Lopez sacrifice bunt. That set the stage for Samad Taylor, making his MLB debut that day. Taylor singled to score the game-winning run, a moment he’ll never forget.
June 29 vs. Guardians - Freddy Fermin walk-off double
Freddy Fermin was added to the 40-man roster and was named MVP of the Venezuelan Winter League, but not many expected the 28-year-old catcher to make much of an impact this year. He turned in a terrific rookie season and won a game in May against the White Sox with a walk off bunt. He had another walk-off hit on June 29 against Cleveland. The Royals battled back from a 2-0 deficit in the eighth, only to have Cleveland take a tenth inning lead when Jose Ramirez stole home. With one out in the tenth against All-Star closer Emmanuel Clase, Fermin laced a pitch down the line for a walk-off double to give the Royals a 4-3 win.
July 28 vs. Twins - Bobby’s walk off grand slam
The Royals took a 4-2 lead into the ninth against the Twins, but closer Scott Barlow was going through some struggles and coughed up the lead to take the game to extra innings. Taylor Clarke gave up an RBI single to score the extra innings runner in the tenth and the Royals looked sunk. Hard-throwing Twins closer Jhoan Duran struck out Drew Waters to start the inning, but began to lose his control, walking two hitters to load the bases. Bobby Witt Jr. was in the midst of a torrid pace and made Duran pay with a grand slam, part of a career-high six RBI day for the youngster.
August 1 vs. Mets - Walk off balk
The Royals started playing well going into the trade deadline, sweeping the Twins before hosting the Mets. The Royals coughed up a 3-1 lead in the eighth, but scratched back to tie it in the eighth on a Fermin sacrifice fly. Francisco Alvarez opened up the tenth with a two-run home run, but the Royals battled back in the bottom of the inning. Bobby Witt Jr. led off with an RBI double, and MJ Melendez singled him home to tie the score. With two outs, Dairon Blanco reached safely on a throwing error by Brett Baty, and Drew Waters walked to load the bases. Mets pitcher Josh Walker was brought into the game, but he forgot his Pitchcom earpiece, and panicked on how to communicate with his catcher before the pitch clock expired. In doing so, he flinched his back leg, earning the attention of home plate Ryan Blakney, who called a balk. That sent the winning run home for a 7-6 Royals win, extending their winning streak.
August 14 vs. Mariners - Dairon Blanco walk off bunt
This game should have been a laugher, but leave it to the Royals bullpen to build the drama. The Royals put up three runs in the first on a home run by Salvador Perez, and Bobby Witt Jr. made it 4-0 with an inside-the-park home run. The Royals built up a 5-0 lead while Brady Singer was cruising, retiring the first 14 hitters of the game and carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning. But he turned the game over to the bullpen in the eighth, and by the bottom of the ninth the Royals trailed 6-5. Witt led off with a single, followed by a Michael Massey single, and Salvy would eventually tie the game with a sac fly. That brought up Dairon Blanco, who used his speed and bunting ability to win the game with a walk-off bunt.
August 23 vs. Athletics - Ragans dominates
Ragans had a really remarkable run after the Royals acquired him, but August 23 was really his coming out party. Yes, he was facing an Athletics lineup that looked more suited for Triple-A, but Ragans dominated them, allowing just two hits over six innings, tying a career high with 11 strikeouts and no walks. He generated 18 whiffs on the day, and was still hitting 100 mph on the radar gun with his 99th pitch. The 4-0 win began a stretch of four consecutive starts where Ragans gave up three or fewer hits.
September 29 vs. Yankees - Royals bat around in the first and Bobby goes 30/30
The Royals took out a year’s worth of frustration in the first inning against Yankees starter Carlos Rodón in their last series of the year. Rodón failed to retire any of the eight hitters he faced, and the Royals eventually hung a nine-spot on the Yankees in the first inning on their way to a laugher. To put the icing on the cake, Bobby Witt Jr. homered for the 30th time that year, making him the first player in club history to hit 30+ home runs and steal 30+ bases in a season.
What was your favorite Royals game in 2023?
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Mike Mayers near perfecto
Samad Taylor walk off
Freddy Fermin walk off double
Bobby Witt Jr. walk off grand slam
Walk off balk against the Mets
Cole Ragans dominates the A’s
Royals rip Yankees and Bobby goes 30/30