Royals

Royals battle back to win after rocky start by pitcher Jorge Lopez

Royals pitcher Jorge Lopez struggled against the Rockies

Royals starting pitcher Jorge Lopez explains his struggles in a spring training outing against the Rockies in Scottsdale, Ariz. He allowed six runs and needed 69 pitches to get through two innings.
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Royals starting pitcher Jorge Lopez explains his struggles in a spring training outing against the Rockies in Scottsdale, Ariz. He allowed six runs and needed 69 pitches to get through two innings.

With a couple momentary exceptions, Royals pitcher Jorge Lopez simply didn’t have control of his fastball from the start on Wednesday night. It showed, and the Colorado Rockies took advantage.

Lopez allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits and three walks in the first two innings, but the Royals rallied for an 8-7 come-from-behind win in front of an announced 9,600 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

“Fastball command is always my problem,” Lopez said. “If I don’t make it on my (first) four, five pitches it’s not going to work.”

Lopez walked the first batter of the night on four consecutive pitches. He needed 69 pitches to get through two innings (31 in the first, 38 in the second), and he allowed a pair of home runs to Rockies hitters Chris Ianetta and Daniel Murphy within a three-batter stretch in the second. He faced nine batters and allowed five runs in the inning.

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Even when Lopez found command, he wasn’t consistent enough to warrant calls from home plate umpire Tom Woodring. Lopez admitted that being “all over the zone” with his pitches made it more difficult for the umpire to call a strike on sinkers with late movement.

“When you’re a young player like Jorge, you can’t afford to fraction and start soft focusing on those things,” Royals pitching coach Cal Eldred said during the in-game television interview on Fox Sports Kansas City. “You’ve got to find that glove, and you’ve got to go through it with your best stuff.”

Deep drives: Hunter Dozier and Frank Schwindel each hit home runs for the Royals. Schwindel’s solo homer in the second inning was his second of Cactus League play.

Dozier hit a towering three-run shot deep to left field, his second of the spring, to make it 7-6 in the fourth inning after the Royals trailed by as many as five runs early.

“That ball was a blast, a three-run homer — a good piece of hitting on Dozier’s part,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “We were down early, but the guys kept battling. We kept getting good at-bats until Dozier could get a pitch that he could drive deep into the night.”

Brian Goodwin hit an eighth-inning triple off the wall in center field and scored the eventual winning run on a Schwindel sacrifice fly.

Starting point: Yost said Wednesday morning that there’s a chance the team starts the regular season with an extra position player since they won’t need a fifth starter for the first couple weeks of the season. With the extra off-days, the bullpen shouldn’t be overly taxed. That leaves the door open for the Royals to go with 12 pitchers and 13 position players at least at the onset of the season.

“I would like to go with 12 pitchers all year long,” Yost said. “I don’t know if I can do that. I’d like to do it. We’ll see. We’ll start that way. Because of the off-days we can afford to do that. Then we’ll make adjustments accordingly.”

Up next: The Royals will play the Cincinnati Reds on the road at Goodyear Ballpark on Thursday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. (CT), and the Royals list Heath Fillmyer as their probable starting pitcher. The radio broadcast of the game will be available online via MLB.com.

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