The Royals entered their series at the New York Yankees having lost 12 out of their last 15 games there. This game however was a dominant performance by the Royals. Homer Bailey was terrific. He allowed a run in the first inning but nothing after that as he went six innings for the win. His splitter was extremely effective against the Yankees.
The bullpen has struggled early in the season but Richard Lovelady and Ian Kennedy combined for three scoreless innings in this win. Ned Yost actually used the bullpen in a productive manner Thursday. He allowed his relief pitchers go more than an inning while they were effective.
The offense was good as well on Thursday. Ryan O’Hearn had what we hope was a breakout game. Having pulled so many pitches recently and struggled reaching base doing it, O’Hearn hit the ball to the opposite field Thursday and ended up with two hits, one of which was a home run.
The win improved the Royals’ record to 7-12. The surprising fact is that they are just -8 in run differential. MLB.com has their expected record at 9-10 based on their run differential. So, the Royals have played much better than their record would indicate. As we all know, it’s the bullpen that has killed the team so far.
Jakob Junis faces CC Sabathia on Friday night.
Merrifield hit a mistake pitch in the seventh to left center for a ground rule double.
Mondesi got his first road hit in this game. He doubled with one out in the first inning off of a fastball. In the second inning he struck out on a breaking ball. Mondesi has struggled hitting the breaking ball this year. In the fifth, Mondesi hit a hanging breaking ball to right for a single. In the seventh Mondesi hit an inside fastball to the opposite field for a sacrifice fly.
Gordon doubled to right in the first inning. He could have been thrown out by Aaron Judge but Gordon avoided the tag.
Dozier made a really nice play charging a slow grounder in the eighth and throwing on the run to get Brett Gardner by half a step.
O’Hearn has been in a slump recently. He broke out of that in the fourth with a lead off home run to left center. He singled to left in the eighth. He has been pulling a lot of balls lately and has struggled at the plate because of it. Thursday he was successful in two at bats by going to the opposite field.
O’Hearn made a terrific catch in the sixth. He chased down a fly ball down the right field line and caught it on the run with his back to the infield. O’Hearn also made a nice stretch for the ball on Dozier’s eighth inning throw to first on the run to beat Brett Gardner by half a step.
Soler hit a home run in the second inning that he didn’t think was going to be a home run. He was upset after making contact thinking he just flew out to left field. But left field is just 318 feet down the line in Yankees Stadium and Soler got it just far enough. In the eighth, Soler got a pitch down and away and hit a single to right. That’s nice to see because it’s that pitch location that has given him so much trouble this year. Of course, this was a fastball and he’s struggled the most in that location with off speed pitches.
On defense Soler did not stop on a fly ball to right center between him and Billy Hamilton. Both players called for it so the center fielder has priority but Soler continued to the ball and neither caught it as their gloves collided. Soler’s poor defense has been a concern for some and it showed up on that play.
Hamilton hit a single to right in the second towards the line but held at first instead of testing Aaron Judge’s arm. That was probably a good idea.
Bailey was terrific Thursday. His splitter was working really well. The Yankees struggled with that pitch all night. He allowed a run by Aaron Judge on a sacrifice fly in the first but was not score on after that.
Lovelady had really good control Thursday. He dominated Yankee batters. This is the first time he has faced the Yankees so it will be interesting to see how he fares against him later in this series. It’s a four game series so he’s likely to see them again this weekend.
Kennedy struck out Aaron Judge looking on an inside curve to end the eighth. He threw up and in earlier in the count and froze Judge with the two strike breaking ball. He allowed two base runners in the ninth, and although he threw more pitches than you would like, Kennedy closed out the game with a scoreless inning.