Royals

Homer Bailey’s performance lifts Royals to back-to-back wins

Royals pitcher Homer Bailey stifled the Indians for seven innings

Royals right-hander Homer Bailey tossed seven scoreless in a 3-0 win over the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium on April 13, 2019. Bailey allowed just two hits, walked two and struck out six.
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Royals right-hander Homer Bailey tossed seven scoreless in a 3-0 win over the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium on April 13, 2019. Bailey allowed just two hits, walked two and struck out six.

Perhaps all it took was one win to break the curse that seemed to somehow infect everything the Royals did for the first two weeks of the season.

Even if this week signaled just a temporary respite, the past two days have certainly been an early-season reversal of fortunes for a previously snake-bitten Royals ballclub.

The Royals, who’d already seen several promising outings fall apart in the seventh inning or later, got a turn-back-the-clock pitching performance from 32-year-old starter Homer Bailey and the bullpen made a three-run lead hold up as though it were a dozen on the way to a 3-0 win over the Cleveland Indians in front of an announced 15,188 at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday night.

The win clinched a series win for the Royals, their first since they took two of three from the Chicago White Sox to start the season. The Royals, who’d lost 10 in a row going into Friday night, will try to sweep the three-game set on Sunday.

Hunter Dozier and Whit Merrifield registered two hits apiece, while Ryan O’Hearn smacked a solo home run to lead the Royals offensively.

“There were however many games during that stretch when we thought we were going to win, and it just didn’t work, crazy things happened,” O’Hearn said. “To kind of get over that wall and get that win (Friday) gave us a ton of confidence today. I wasn’t even thinking about the crazy stuff that happened last week late in the game. Bullpen came in, shut the door and did great.”

Bailey provided the best start for a Royals pitcher this season since Brad Keller tossed seven scoreless in the season opener against the Chicago White Sox. Bailey allowed just two hits, walked two and struck out six in his seven innings of work.

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The bullpen duo of Ian Kennedy and Wily Peralta didn’t allow a runner to reach base in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively.

“We got ahead. We were pretty efficient,” Bailey said. “You know, got some ground balls when we needed. A lot of strikeouts early, just had three, four pitches working. If you can do that and then stay within yourself, you’re going to have success.”

Bailey hadn’t gone seven scoreless since September 27, 2017, as a member of the Cincinnati Reds in a start against the Milwaukee Brewers. He pitched seven or more innings just twice in 2018.

In his two previous starts this season, Bailey hadn’t gone more than five innings while throwing at least 96 pitches in each start. He’d shown a steady arsenal of swing-and-miss pitches as he piled up 15 total strikeouts in those 10 innings.

This time around, he’d been able to mix both the strikeout stuff and pitching to contact the second time through the Indians’ lineup. Four of his six strikeouts were in the first trip through the batting order.

“Then they came out swinging early,” Bailey said. “We got some early ground balls, some early pop ups. When you have that kind of efficiency, the strikeouts are going to go down because you’ve got to get two strikes first. You know what, it was just — we kind of worked our plan the way that we designed it, I guess.”

Catcher Martin Maldonado discusses the keys to Homer Bailey's stellar start against the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium on April 13, 2019. Bailey pitched seven scoreless innings in a 3-0 win.

The only time the Indians put two men on base came with two outs in the fifth. Bailey issued a two-out walk to Kevin Plawecki, and Brad Miller doubled to right field. Bailey responded by striking out Max Moroff, swinging, to end the inning.

“He never got into the high-leverage situations,” catcher Martin Maldonado said of Bailey. “He always was kind of in control of the situation pretty much from the beginning. … I think he was in total control of the situation of the game every pitch on any count.”

Adalberto Mondesi’s two-out RBI single in the bottom of the third drove in the night’s first run. In 10 previous games in his home ballpark this season, Mondesi batted .381 with a .413 on-base percentage and .810 slugging percentage (10 extra-base hits).

O’Hearn doubled that lead an inning later when he turned on the first pitch of his second at-bat against Indians starter Jefry Rodriguez. He’d seen a couple change-ups in his first at-bat against Rodriguez, a ground out, but he took advantage of one that stayed up in the zone the second time around. O’Hearn deposited that ball in the right-field stands for his second home run of the season.

O’Hearn, who had an astoundingly-productive start to his big-league career last season (12 home runs, 24 extra-base hits, 30 RBI in 44 games), snapped a seven-game homerless streak. That seven-game span marked the longest such span in his tenure in the majors.

With runners on second and third and two outs in the seventh, Merrifield lined a pitch toward Moroff at shortstop that got on top of Moroff too quickly for him to corral. The single allowed Dozier to score from third, while Lucas Duda got thrown out at the plate as he tried to score from second.

Dozier’s run gave the Royals a 3-0 lead, and the bullpen took over for Bailey in the eighth.

“We had two really big two-out RBIs from Whit and by Mondi and then O’Hearn got a hold of one,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “We had an opportunity to tack on another one or two, but just couldn’t quite accomplish it. But (those were) two really, really big RBIs to cover it by Mondi and Whit.”

Royals 3, Indians 0

Cleveland

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Martin cf

3

0

0

0

1

1

.233

J.Ramirez 3b

4

0

0

0

0

0

.135

Naquin rf

4

0

0

0

0

0

.263

Santana 1b

3

0

0

0

0

1

.386

H.Ramirez dh

3

0

0

0

0

1

.179

Bauers lf

3

0

0

0

0

1

.159

Plawecki c

2

0

0

0

1

0

.125

Miller 2b

3

0

2

0

0

1

.250

Moroff ss

3

0

0

0

0

3

.077



Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Merrifield 2b

4

0

2

1

0

0

.339

Mondesi ss

4

0

1

1

0

0

.293

Gordon lf

4

0

0

0

0

0

.356

Soler rf

4

0

0

0

0

3

.214

O’Hearn 1b

3

1

1

1

0

0

.222

Dozier 3b

3

1

2

0

0

0

.256

Duda dh

2

0

0

0

1

0

.105

Maldonado c

2

1

1

0

0

1

.184

Owings cf

3

0

0

0

0

1

.160



Cleveland

000

000

000

0

2

0

Kansas City

001

100

10x

3

7

0

LOB—Cleveland 3, Kansas City 4. 2B—Miller (3), Maldonado (2). HR—O’Hearn (2), off Rodriguez. RBIs—Merrifield (6), Mondesi (11), O’Hearn (5). S—Maldonado.

Runners left in scoring position—Cleveland 2 (Moroff 2). RISP—Cleveland 0 for 1; Kansas City 2 for 5.

Runners moved up—Owings. GIDP—Naquin.

DP—Kansas City 1 (Merrifield, Mondesi, O’Hearn).

Cleveland

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Rodriguez, L, 0-1

5 2/3

5

2

2

0

3

91

3.18

Perez

1/3

0

0

0

0

0

3

4.91

Anderson

2

2

1

1

1

2

26

4.50

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Bailey, W, 1-1

7

2

0

0

2

6

102

5.29

Kennedy, H, 1

1

0

0

0

0

2

16

1.12

Peralta, S, 1-2

1

0

0

0

0

0

16

9.00

WP—Anderson.

Umpires—Home, Bruce Dreckman; First, Manny Gonzalez; Second, Mike Estabrook; Third, Paul Emmel.

T—2:26. A—15,188 (37,903).

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Lynn Worthy covers the Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball for The Star. A native of the Northeast, he’s covered high school, collegiate and professional sports for The Lowell Sun, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Allentown Morning Call and The Salt Lake Tribune. He’s won awards for sports features and sports columns.
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