The joke was born the last time reliever Scott Alexander appeared in the middle of an inning, the last time a Royals pitcher went down and a warm body was needed to enter in a pinch.
“The last time he came in,” Royals starter Jason Hammel said. “He’s literally the guy. ‘Somebody got hurt on the mound. Let’s get Scotty up. Just throw him in there.’ ”
In the moments after a 7-6 victory over the Twins on Friday, Hammel could safely provide a dosage of snark. Alexander had entered with two outs and two men on in the bottom of the ninth and rescued the Royals from what would have been a disastrous loss.
For the second time in 11 days, closer Kelvin Herrera exited mid-batter with what Royals manager Ned Yost described as “forearm tightness” near the wrist. Alexander has escaped jams both times.
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The first came against the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 22. On Friday, Alexander entered with the count 3-0 to Minnesota’s Jorge Polanco. He issued a bases-loaded walk, which was charged to Herrera, before striking out Eddie Rosario on a 1-2 sinker to thwart the rally.
“The more times you do it, the better you get at it,” Alexander said. “I know what to expect now. You work on your thought process while you’re warming up and you get it down.”
Herrera had recorded two outs while surrendering two runs. But the inning began in undramatic fashion. A runner reached on a fielding error from second baseman Whit Merrifield. Herrera procured two quick outs. It seemed like the game would be over in seconds.
But then Herrera issued a walk to Zack Granite and hit Brian Dozier to load the bases. Moments later, Joe Mauer shot a two-run single up the middle.
“It’s just hard,” Yost said of Herrera. “He’s one out or really one pitch away from getting out of it. He’s still throwing the ball well. If there was no outs or one out, it’s a different story. There’s two outs. Just make one pitch, and he’s out of it. He just couldn’t get there.”
Yost said that Herrera was day to day with the tightness in the lower part of his forearm. The Royals have emphasized that the issue is not overly serious. Yet it is perplexing.
By the end, though, Alexander left with his second save. He offered another clutch performance. So there was that.
“Let’s just try to keep him out of it as much as we can,” Yost deadpanned.