The Royals kept the game close until the ninth when Carlos Santana hit a walk-off home run with Whit Merrifield on first to give the Royals a 3-2 win.
BIG PICTURE: The 3-2 Royals win gave them the series win, 2-1, and a 4-1 homestand. The win also improves the club to 22-23. They are four games behind the first-place Chicago White Sox, who were swept by the Yankees this weekend in New York.
NOTES: The Royals acquired RHP Domingo Tapia from the Seattle Mariners and assigned him to Triple-A Omaha… 3B Hunter Dozier (concussion) was sent to Triple-A Omaha on a rehab assignment… RHP Jesse Hahn (shoulder impingement) was transferred to the 60-day injured list.
BUBIC SHINES AFTER BAD LUCK FIRST INNING… Kris Bubic struggled somewhat in the first inning, but a lot of it was bad luck. There wasn’t much that was hit hard off of him. Sometimes hitters just find spots. Yes, sometimes hitting is luck.
Bubic allowed two runs on four hits in the first inning. And a lot of pitchers, including some of the best in the game, struggle in the first inning. But I wouldn’t say Bubic struggled as much as he just had some bad luck.
What Bubic did after getting out of the first inning is something most Royals starters have not been able to do this year. He settled down and gave the club four more innings of scoreless ball. He gave the team a chance to win the game.
Bubic ended up throwing just 82 pitches. The problem was that he threw so many in that first inning. Maybe he could have gone one more inning, but I can’t disagree with Mike Matheny getting him out of there after four solid innings.
ZUBER NEEDS CONFIDENCE… Tyler Zuber is a heck of a pitcher… to a point. He’s going through what a lot of young pitchers go through. He sometimes gives the opponent too much credit. Zuber gets two strikes and the batter a lot. And often, he is up 0-2 or 1-2. His problem right now is finishing them off. He either overthrows his fastball, and it’s not even something the batter has to decide on whether to swing or not, or he misses just out of this zone trying to be too perfect. If he continues to throw the pitches that get him ahead in the count, he would have batters on their heels and be very successful. It will come in time.
MATHENY EJECTED… Mike Matheny was ejected after a confrontation with first base umpire Adrian Johnson. The whole thing started when a pitch hit Whit Merrifield on the hands, but Johnson said that he swung at it. Merrifield did appear to swing swing at it. Whit seemed to say that he was moving his hands away from the ball and not swinging the bat. Matheny said something on his way back to the dugout that prompted Johnson to throw him out of the game.
ZIMMER LOOKS TERRIFIC… Kyle Zimmer never had the confidence of Ned Yost. I don’t know why. Yost did a lot of strange things.
Sunday, Zimmer looked terrific. Known for his fastball, Zimmer has several pitches. He started the first two batters he faced with an off-speed pitch, and they seemed stunned. Zimmer pounded the strike zone. That makes batters swing, and it opens up pitches off the plate. He finished with three strikeouts in two perfect innings.
SANTANA HOMERUN WALKS IT OFF… Casey Mize gave the Royals fits all day. It took until the seventh inning until they knocked him out of the game. And although they put up a run that inning, they entered the ninth still needing a run to even the score. And they were going to have to try to tie the game against Michael Fulmer who has been terrific since being moved to the bullpen and made the closer. Whit Merrifield singled sharply to third base on a ground ball that hit off the fielder’s glove for an infield hit. Carlos Santana then hit the first pitch he saw from Fulmer, a 97mph fastball, for a game-winning home run to center field.
NEXT UP: The Royals travel to Tampa Bay, facing the Rays Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The Rays have won their last ten games. They then face the Twins in Minnesota over the weekend before returning home on Memorial Day.
Thanks for reading…