Bullpen collapses, Royals lose 7-6

This game started so good to.

Whit Merrifield slammed on ball four with a swing, but the next four royals all reached base, and before Jonathan Heasley ever took the mound, Hunter Dozier’s single with two RBIs had given him a lead to work with. In the second inning, the Royals scored another pair of runs, this time on a single from Andrew Benintendi. Finally, in the third inning, MJ Melendez smashed a home run into right field, top deck seats to give the Royals a 5-0 lead.

Meanwhile, things were going even better on the pitching side. Heasley had trouble finding him all day. He regularly missed his side of the arm, especially with the fastball and the slider, but it didn’t matter to the first 10 batters, they all went back to the Astros dugout without making it to base. At the end of the day, Heasley’s line contained just a single earned run in six innings. He gave up an undeserved run, striking just three and walking two. But when you lack control to the degree that he was today, keeping the Astros on three hits and keeping him in the ballpark is a huge win and there can be very little to complain about.

Astros starter Jake Odorizzi managed to escape fourth without giving up any more runs, and then her bullpen took over and began strangling the Royal bats. For Royals fans still fondly remembering 2014 and 2015, a bullpen fight usually sounds like a good time. Unfortunately, tonight’s game was played in 2022 and the Royals’ bullpen couldn’t match their opponents’.

When Heasley left the game, the Royals were still 5-2 up and the bullpen just had to hold on to the win. First up was the recent acquisition of Wyatt Mills; He delivered an inning with only one run allowed and Royals fans started winning hard, but a two-run lead with two innings remaining still seemed reasonably safe. Then MJ Melendez came to the top of the eighth and tanked another upper-deck bomb that hugged the right field line to give the Royals back their three-run lead.

Surely the bullpen could hold out now?

Mills was assigned to bring out Jeremy Pena Jr. to lead the eighth but went with him. Manager Mike Matheny decided to ask a veteran to handle things and called left-wing Amir Garret. Garret immediately went through bases loaded and then dealt a two-RBI single to Kyle Tucker. Matheny went back to the bullpen, out came Taylor Clarke. Clarke managed to escape the inning but first gave up another single to go into the ninth inning in a tie.

The Royals failed to score in game nine and Scott Barlow, who bucked tradition of reserving your closer goal for an away game, was called upon to send it into extra innings. He made the first two outs, but when he came up against three-hole hitter Yordan Alvarez – who terrorized the Royals in the last duel between these two teams with seven hits, most of which went for extra bases – he clinched a 3-1 playing field and deposited it behind the wall to end the game. Believe it or not, that was reportedly Alvarez’s first-ever walk-off homer.

Remarks

  • I know I said it’s hard to blame Heasley for a game with the results he’s had, but he probably won’t get those results very often going forward unless he has better control of his playing fields can develop. He also only got six swings and missed all day.
  • Melendez’s bombs hit at 107 and 108.4 MPH, respectively. The kid has some serious Energy.
  • Vinnie Pasquantino had an RBI single and another walk, meaning he’s reached base multiple times in four of his six games since being promoted to the big leagues. That means he has an OPS of .870 despite a batting average of .176. He’s also walked in a quarter of his record appearances, only slamming twice. If he isn’t Ryan O’Hearn’s next successor, he could be the next Mel Ott.
  • According to the show, the Royals have now run more bats than any other team in baseball. But keep telling us how good the royals are at accountability as Cal Eldred makes another unsuccessful hilltop visit, President Moore.

The Royals have a chance to equalize the series tomorrow night. Zack Greinke will pitch for a former team against another former team. The Astros counter with 25-year-old right-hander Luis Garcia. He limits walks and hits out a lot, but he can also be won for a home run this season. Game begins at 7:10 p.m. CDT.

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