The Royals started a nine-game road trip Friday with strong performances from Mike Minor and Andrew Benintendi.
Big Picture: The Royals won 6-2 to improve to 11-7 on the season. With Detroit struggling, the Royals really need to take three out of four games of this series. This was a good start. The Royals were in control most of the game.
Notes: OF Kyle Isbel was optioned to the alternate site. RHP Greg Holland was placed on the 10-day injured list. 1B Ryan O’Hearn and RHP Brad Brach were recalled from the alternate site.
Benintendi Blast: Andrew Benintendi wanted to ditch his slow start to the season and get the Royals off to a good start on their nine-game road trip, and he did just that. A second-inning opposite-field solo home run in the second inning gave the Royals a 1-0 lead. And then a diving catch in the bottom of the inning prevented an extra-base hit.
Benintendi started slowly this season, but he’s starting to turn it on. His first home run is nice, but the fact that it went to the opposite field is a bigger deal.
Minor Success: Mike Minor took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before allowing a double and eventually a home run. But Minor was terrific through his 5 2/3 innings. He finished with nine strikeouts. Minor used any pitch in any count and kept the batters off balance.
Let’s Talk Relief Pitching: As we have discussed before, the Royals, like most teams, need a good bullpen to win. And the bullpen has been pretty good this season. No, the stats won’t necessarily reflect it, but stats can be deceiving.
For example, look at Kyle Zimmer and Josh Staumont. They both have a WAR of 0.1 this season. Do you really think these two are just barely better than a replacement player brought up from the minor leagues? Of course not. That’s ridiculous.
In this game, Tyler Zuber, Jake Brentz, Kyle Zimmer, and Josh Staumont shut down the Detroit Tigers for 3 1/3 innings.
Assuming makes an…: Let’s stop the peeling out of the running lane when an obvious double play is happening. Whit Merrifield did that in this game and almost made a huge mistake. Zack Short dropped the ball covering second base. With Whit peeling off, Short almost recovered and tagged out an assuming Merrifield. Let’s try this. When you are going into second base, and you think you are facing an obvious double play, just slide into the bag. If the ball is dropped, you are there and easily safe. There is no reason to do anything else.
What’s With Whitt? This is admittedly nitpicking, but what’s going on with Whit Merrifield lately? Terrible defense earlier this week. As mentioned above, he almost bailed out Zack Short on an error. It feels like his head isn’t in the game at times this season. I’m not saying he’s a problem, and the Royals need to replace him. I’m saying that we hold him to a higher standard. He has been a smart and hard-nosed player since arriving in the big leagues, but this year, he seems slightly different. It’s likely temporary, but it’s something to watch.
Injury news: Tyler Zuber was hit in his pitching arm by a line drive after just two pitches and left the game. He was in obvious pain as he walked off the field. X-rays after the game were negative.
Next Up: The Royals play a noon game in Detroit on Saturday. Brady Singer looks for his first win of the season against Matthew Boyd.
Thanks for reading…
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