For six, long innings, it seemed like the Royals were sleep-walking through another loss on their way to another series sweep at the hands of an opponent. Daniel Lynch got his first start of 2023 today and he wasn’t awful, but he wasn’t perfect, either. He pitched 5.2 innings and struck out six while allowing five hits and walking three. Two runs scored against him in a long fourth inning and that seemed like it would be plenty.
MacKenzie Gore had the start for the Nationals and it was easily his best since his major league debut. He struck out 11 in seven innings while allowing only a single run. He only walked one and allowed three total hits. Nick Pratto led off the game with a single and that would be the last time a Royal reached scoring position until the seventh inning. That’s when MJ Melendez got a hold of one and did what President Biden wishes he could do, and cut the deficit in half with a single swing of a bat.
Still, it was only their third hit and they were still trailing late in the game. A certain hard-throwing lefty came out of the bullpen in the top of the eighth and seemed determined to give that run back and more, but somehow wiggled out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam without giving up any runs.
In the bottom of the eighth, Edward Olivares completely destroyed a pitch from reliever Chad Kuhl. He hit it so hard that not only did it bounce off of the scoreboard on the Hall of Fame building in left field, but it damaged it. Cameras later found the smoking crater he had left in the scoreboard to show the audience at home. If you watch carefully, you can see part of the scoreboard go dead as the ball impacts it in the embedded video below:
That's not KC BBQ smoke in the air.— Cut4 (@Cut4) May 28, 2023
Edward Olivares hit this ball so hard, the scoreboard started smoking. pic.twitter.com/Kx1fuiioew
The homer was measured at 111 MPH off the bat and 452 feet traveled, the third-longest home run hit by a Royals player this year.
Since this was a home game, Scott Barlow was called upon to pitch the ninth inning and did so effectively, walking one but also striking one out in a scoreless frame.
In the bottom of the ninth, Melendez again came through, this time hitting a double through the wickets of the first baseman. It has since been ruled a two-base error by Dominic Smith, but I choose to believe it will eventually be ruled a double again. One out later Michael Massey, who many Royals fans have wanted demoted to Omaha if not fired into the sun for his poor batting stats, came to the plate.
On a one-one count, Massey roped a line drive into right field which landed just in front of Lane Thomas who proceeded to slightly fumble the short hop. That was just enough to allow Melendez to turn third and race home safely, ending the game.
Massey claimed it was his first walk-off hit in his entire life, at any level of baseball. For us fans, it was a much nicer highlight than the only one we had through six innings when Rex Hudler, insisting that MLB managers were like fathers to their players said, “He’s your daddy. Please him; make him happy.”
The Royals will start another series against the Cardinals tomorrow. The eternal Adam Wainwright, who I swear was pitching for them when I was a kid, will go for St, Louis. The Royals announced shortly after the game that Josh Staumont would act as the opener for tomorrow’s game with former Cardinal Mike Mayers acting as the bulk man. Here’s hoping he gets some good revenge against his former team.