After a great home-stand, including a sweep of the first-place Twins, the Royals began a six-game road trip with a quick two-gamer against the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds will come to Kansas City to play a pair next week. In one of the more hitter-friendly ballparks, Great American Ball Park, the Royals looked to continue their good hitting from their recent home-stand.
Both starters had easy first innings with the only baserunner being Joey Votto on a 2-out single. The action really started in the second inning. The Royals got the bases loaded on a single by Hunter Dozier, a double by Ryan O’Hearn, and a walk to Alex Gordon, but were unable to bring any of them home.
The Reds had better luck in their half. Royal-killer Matt Davidson led off with a walk, and Jesse Winker got him to second on a single. Then, Curt Casali hit a groundball that hit Davidson, who was out by rule. 2015 World Series hero Christian Colon grounded into a forceout to third. Royals were one out away from getting out of the inning. But Kyle Farmer hit a double to score two.
The Reds gifted a run to the Royals in the third by walking Jorge Soler, and then Salvador Perez and Dozier reached on fielding errors. O’Hearn hit a long ball off the wall, scoring Soler. However, Perez wasn’t able to score and the bases remained loaded and O’Hearn had just a single. The Royals were unable to cash in more as Adalberto Mondesi struck out and Maikel Franco lined out to right.
The Reds made KC pay for not scoring more. Davidson hit a two-run shot and Winker followed it up with a solo shot. 5-1 Reds. Short night for Bubic, right? Not so fast. He responded by retiring the next seven Reds hitters to go five full innings. While he did that, the Royals worked to chip away at the four-run deficit.
They got a run in the fourth inning when Nicky Lopez hit a one-out double and singled home by Merrifield. They got another run in the fifth inning when Perez hit a leadoff single, bringing his hitting streak to nine. Two groundouts got him to third with two outs. Then Mondesi came up and beat out an infield single to our old friend, Christian Colon:
After a quiet sixth inning, the Royals had a golden opportunity to knock in more runs against Nate Jones in the seventh. They opened the frame with singles by Merrifield and Soler. After Perez struck out, Dozier walked to fill the bases with one out. O’Hearn smashed a liner up the middle that found the glove of Kyle Farmer. Farmer then turned it into a double play to get out of the inning.
Still at 5-3, Amir Garrett came on to pitch the eighth for the Reds. After Franco led off the inning with a walk, Ryan McBroom pinch-hit for Gordon, and golfed a low slider into the left-field seats, tying the game at 5-5.
The Royals and Reds would be unable to score any more in the eighth and ninth innings, and the game would go to extras. With a runner on second to start, the Royals were unable to score, or even move the runner. Both O’Hearn and Mondesi struck out and Brett Phillips, who came in earlier for defense, hit a grounder to first to end the inning.
In the bottom of the tenth, Josh Staumont was called on to keep the game tied. He walked Castellanos, whose run didn’t matter, and set up a double-play situation. However, Joey Votto became the hero for the Reds, smacking the first pitch he saw to deep center. Phillips seemed to have a read on the ball, but it was misplayed and bounced off the wall, giving Nick Senzel plenty of time to score from second as the Reds walked off the winners of the first game.
With the loss, the Royals fell to 7-11 but didn’t lose ground in the division as Minnesota lost to the Brewers. It also helped with the Tigers and Indians losing as well, but that one hurt. They hoped for better luck the next day.
Player of the Game: Ryan McBroom
Pitcher of the Game: Scott Barlow
Whit Merrifield opened up the game with a double. He went to third on a passed ball by Tucker Barnhart. After Soler struck out, Salvador Perez hit a groundball to shortstop Freddy Galvis. Merrifield broke for home and Galvis airmailed the throw. Merrifield scored and Salvy was safe at first. Hunter Dozier walked and Ryan McBroom followed with an opposite-field single. Bases loaded, one out.
The Royals’ struggles with the bases loaded continued as Maikel Franco struck out and Ryan O’Hearn hit a grounder to first. All that, with just one run scored.
In the home half of the first, Keller faced off against Reds leadoff hitter Shogo Akiyama. The sixth pitch of the at-bat was fouled off and hit home plate umpire Chris Conroy’s right hand, which started bleeding profusely. The game was delayed 17 minutes to clean up the site and to swap out home plate umpires. Jeff Nelson took over for the remainder of the game.
When play resumed, the Reds would also get the bases loaded on a single by Akiyama and walks to Joey Votto and Jesse Winker, but Keller got out of it on a foul flyout by Nick Senzel.
Miley came out after getting two outs in the second and was replaced by Tyler Mahle, who only needed three pitches to get the final out of the top of the second. Keller had a much quicker second inning, retiring the three batters in order.
Perez hit a solo HR in the third, bringing his hitting streak to ten games. Akiyama walked to leadoff the bottom of the third, but was erased when Nicholas Castellanos grounded into a double play. Votto then grounded out, making it another quick inning for Keller.
Mondesi was hit with the first pitch in the top of the fourth. He made them pay by taking second and then third on two wild pitches. Merrifield then hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Mondesi, and the Royals had a 3-0 lead. Keller only needed seven pitches to get through the bottom of the fourth.
Perez opened the top of the fifth with a single to left, and two batters later McBroom and Franco walked. Bases loaded, one out again. Oh boy. O’Hearn hit a charge into one that came inches from going over the wall but fell into Senzel’s glove. It was enough to score Perez, but it hurts knowing you were that close to three more runs. 4-0, Royals. Keller ran into trouble giving up a bunt single to Galvis and hitting Farmer but got out of it on a double play.
The Royals took a 5-0 lead on a Salvador Perez double after Lopez walked to open the sixth inning. Keller would go 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning. He finished with six innings pitched, giving up no runs and just two hits. With the Royals up by five and Keller cruising, it seemed like the Royals were on their way to an easy victory. So it seemed…
The Reds were thrilled that Keller was out of the game because they came back in a hurry against Ian Kennedy in the seventh. Jesse Winker hit the first pitch to the right-field seats. Then, after a walk to Senzel, Galvis hit a two-run shot to make it 5-3. Scott Barlow came out, and then he gave up a homer to pinch-hitter Josh VanMeter. 5-4 Royals. Not good. Barlow then got behind 3-0 to the #9 hitter Barnhart. This isn’t going to end well, is it?
Barlow came back to strike out Barnhart, got Akiyama to pop-out to shallow center, and struck out Castellanos to mercifully end the inning. The Royals still led, but the last two innings would be nail-biting.
Nicky Lopez walked with one out but was erased when Merrifield hit a groundball to third on a 3-0 count that resulted in an inning-ending double play.
Staumont walked Votto to open the eighth inning. Travis Jankowski pinch ran for Votto and went to third on a one-out single by Winker. With runners on second and third with one out, Staumont struck out Senzel and Galvis on knee-buckling curveballs that found the strike zone.
In the ninth inning, the Royals were unable to add on, so it was up to Trevor Rosenthal to shut the door on the Reds. He walked VanMeter to open the inning and was pinch-ran for by Michael Lorenzen. Barnhart tried to sacrifice bunt Lorenzen to second, but Franco made a great play and threw to second to force out Lorenzen. Rosenthal walked Akiyama to put runners on first and second with Castellanos coming up. Castellanos would walk to load the bases, bringing up Christian Colon.
You remember Christian Colon, right? The guy who hit the clutch World Series-winning hit. Surely, he was going to come through here against his old team, right? Well:
Just an absolute beauty of a 5-4-3 to win the game! With the win, the Royals move to 8-11 and while still four games behind the Twins, gained a game on the Indians and Tigers, who both lost on Wednesday.
Player of the game: Salvador Perez
Pitcher of the game: Brad Keller
The Royals are off on Thursday and will play a four-game set against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field, before coming home and playing another dual-set against the Reds at Kauffman Stadium.
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