Kansas City Royals negate defensive mistakes to pull out series victory over Padres
The Kansas City Royals know how to make things interesting. On Wednesday, they teetered on the brink of disaster multiple times against the San Diego Padres.
There were a lot of walks. Royals pitchers issued nine free passes against the Padres. There were sloppy defensive plays, such as Royals reliever Josh Taylor forgetting to cover the first base in the sixth inning at Petco Park.
In the midst of chaos, the Royals somehow pulled out a series win. KC walked away with a 4-3 victory and won their second consecutive game on the nine-game road trip.
“It’s huge for us and that’s a very talented team,” Royals outfielder MJ Melendez said. “When you look at their roster and their lineup, they’ve got plenty of guys that have been All-Stars and will continue to be All-Stars in the future.
“For us, it’s a big series win.”
Missed previous games of the series?
Game 1: Royals muster two hits in 4-0 shut out against Padres
Game 2: Royals even series behind five-run second inning
The Royals showed a lot of resolve against the Padres. It was a tough draw with five-time All-Star pitcher Yu Darvish on the mound. He entered the day with a 3.16 ERA and just three earned runs allowed in his last two starts.
But the Royals got to Darvish in the sixth inning. They scored three runs and took some good swings. First baseman Vinnie Pasquantino homered to give the Royals a 3-1 lead. And MJ Melendez and Maikel Garcia both doubled in the frame.
Melendez went 2-for-4 and now has 10 doubles this season. Garcia had three hits while Pasquantino recorded his 20th and 21st RBIs.
Darvish allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings. He issued two walks and struck out six.
“When you look at his pitch mix, he is kind of even across the board on what he throws,” Pasquantino said. “There isn’t one pitch that he throws more than the other, except maybe the slider, on any given day.
“He had his two-seam working early today. He kept throwing it. I was able to get to the slider and I believe MJ hit a cutter up and away.”
The Royals recorded nine hits and four runs Wednesday and that was enough to support their bullpen late in the game. Despite the high number of walks, the Royals held it together down the stretch. Jose Cuas, Aroldis Chapman and Taylor Clarke protected a one-run lead. They combined to pitch 2 2/3 innings and didn’t allow a run.
“It’s speaks a lot to the guys we have in the bullpen and the pitching staff in general,” Clarke said. “We’ve been able to kind of be resilient. Whoever is in the box, we have been making pitches no matter what.”
Chapman was the least effective of the three, walking three and striking out two in the eighth. But he was also part of arguably the game’s biggest play. He overthrew Royals catcher Salvador Perez, but the veteran backstop was able to retrieve the ball and race to the plate in time to tag out Padres outfielder Juan Soto.
“We were very fortunate for that ball to bounce back to Salvy,” Quatraro said, “and he had the presence of mind to put a tag on him.”
That was the final out of the eighth, and it came with the bases loaded. Closer Scott Barlow earned his sixth save and KC improved to 14-31.
“We did really good things this series and we are happy about it,” Pasquantino said.
Royals reliever Mike Mayers makes MLB return
The Royals promoted Mike Mayers from Triple-A Omaha on Wednesday and didn’t waste any time getting him into the action. Mayers entered the game in the third inning, following Carlos Hernandez, who served as the opener.
“Carlos did exactly what we would’ve hoped,” Quatraro said. “His stuff looked electric, as it always does. Salvy does a great job working through stuff with him.”
Mayers worked out of trouble against the top of the Padres’ order. He walked infielders Xander Bogaerts and Jake Cronenworth, setting up an early scoring opportunity with star Fernando Tatis Jr. coming up at the plate.
Mayers threw Tatis a slider to start the at-bat. On the next pitch, Mayers utilized his sinker to induce a double play. The sinker touched 93 mph and Tatis hit a ground ball to Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. Witt turned the play to end the inning.
In the fourth, Mayers avoided disaster again. He loaded the bases with two walks and a single. With Xander Boegarts and Juan Soto lurking atop the order, Mayers was able to strike out Trent Grisham and Austin Nola.
“Mayers did a good job,” Quatraro said. “I think he is more of a strike-thrower than the four walks that he showed. It wasn’t like he was missing by a lot. They are a team that doesn’t expand a ton. They are going to force you into the zone.”
Vinnie Pasquantino homers to snap slump
It’s been a tough week for the Royals slugger. Pasquantino entered Wednesday’s game 2-for-23 in his last 26 plate appearances.
Pasquantino took a step toward breaking out of his mini-slump against Darvish. In the sixth inning, he hit his eighth home run of the season. It traveled 379 feet and cleared the right-field wall, giving the Royals a 3-1 advantage.
Vinnie takes the lead back!#WelcomeToTheCity pic.twitter.com/vQIKDNeV2P
— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) May 17, 2023
According to Baseball Savant, Pasquantino’s home run generated a 101.1 mph exit velocity. It was launched at a 37 degree angle and would’ve been a home run in 29 of 30 MLB ballparks.
Pasquantino finished the day 1-for-4.
“For me, it’s try to make good contact all time and try to have good at-bats,” Pasquantino said. “The results will follow that.”
Challenge accepted: Royals get call overturned
The Royals successfully used their in-game challenge in the fourth inning. After Witt reached base with an infield single, he became the topic of discussion at second base. He was called out after appearing to beat the throw following Pasquantino’s groundout.
Second base umpire Lance Barrett called Witt out on the play. Quatraro challenged the call and replay review overturned the ruling. Witt was deemed safe at second and eventually scored on Melendez’s double.
What’s next: The Royals are off Thursday before beginning a three-game weekend series against the Chicago White Sox. Zack Greinke will draw Friday’s matchup against Michael Kopech at Guaranteed Rate Field.