To kick off a six game road trip, the Royals headed to the east coast for a battle with the Baltimore Orioles. Combining for 165 losses between the two before the meeting, the team’s prior performances had the indications of some bad baseball. Despite going hitless for the first five innings, a brief rally in the top of the sixth led to a 5-4 Royals’ win on Monday night.
Following a dreadful homestand where the club surmounted 10 runs in five games, the Kansas City offense would not solve its woes so quickly against the Gardner-Edgerton product, John Means. To counter Means, the Royals sent out Jorge López for his second spot start in replace of Danny Duffy.
Tossing up a pair of zeroes in the first, Baltimore pushed across its first run in the bottom of the second. Although sporting a batting average of .121 before the at-bat, outfielder D.J. Stewart blasted a high fastball off the wall in right-center, plating Jace Peterson to make it 1-0. Not needing much run support, Means continued flashing brilliance with his only blemish being a first inning walk to Hunter Dozier. However, that dominance would begin to fade in the top of the sixth.
Taking his no-hitter into the frame, the Baltimore left-hander faced the bottom of the order. Robbed of a hit his last time up, Nicky Lopez slashed a bouncer into left field to spoil the no-hit bid. With the leadoff man reaching for the first time on the evening, the walls started crumbling for the Orioles. After the single, Nick Dini poked a grounder up the middle that proceeded to turn into error on a botched flip to second, putting runners at the corners with nobody out. Whit Merrifield wasted no time in driving in Lopez to tie the game on a single to center field. Struggling to find his rhythm again, Means allowed another single to Alex Gordon to load the bases. Posting an average over .400 in his last seven games, Dozier contributed once again. Dropping a liner into left fielder that bounced out of the glove of Peterson, the Royals scored two and took the lead for the first time 3-1.
Unfortunately, Cuthbert, Starling, and Arteaga were unable to bring home any more. As things usually go, Jonathan Villar made Kansas City pay by leading off the bottom half with a solo shot into the bleachers in right center. Trimming the lead to one, Baltimore approached its opportunity to respond. After Jake Newberry allowed a hit batter, a walk, and a hit while notching just one out, Ned Yost called on Tim Hill to silence the rally. Taking advantage of a base running blunder from the Orioles, the Royals turned an unorthodox double play to end the inning.
Attempting to flip the momentum back on the visitor’s side, the bottom of the order ignited the fire again. Using the shorter fences in Camden Yards, Lopez and Dini went back-to-back to open the inning. For Lopez, it was his second home run on the year and his first in a major league park. For Dini, it was his first major league home run. To make the moment better, Dini had a massive cheering section of friends and family to witness his achievement.
Searching for stability to hold the lead late, Scott Barlow was handed the seventh. Only Barlow started to flail as well. Two batters into his outing and the deficit was cut down to two on Stewart’s second RBI. Putting runners at first and second with one out, Yost came out for a mound visit to settle down his pitcher. Saying something right, Barlow corrected himself and limited any further harm in the frame.
Receiving scoreless outing from Kevin McCarthy and a nail-biting 22nd save from Ian Kennedy, Kansas City ended its two-game skid and claimed the 45th victory on the 2019 campaign. Tomorrow, Brad Keller will face off against Dylan Bundy. First pitch is set for 6:05 CT.
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