Marlins chase Royals’ Mike Montgomery after four innings in Miami
Had you been wondering what sparked the recent run of Royals wins, you got your answer Sunday afternoon. They were helped by solid but not great pitching throughout their string of six wins in seven games.
They were able to stay in games and gave themselves chances in the later innings to rally or swing the outcome in their favor. That was not the case in their series finale against the Miami Marlins.
The Marlins, who entered the day with the lowest team batting average in the National League and second-lowest in the majors (.239), blasted the Royals’ pitching staff for nine runs and chased starting pitcher Mike Montgomery from the game after four innings.
Instead of a series sweep, the Royals took it on the chin in a 9-0 loss in front of an announced 10,934, plus 174 dogs for “Bark in the Park” at Marlins Park. Three of the five pitchers used by the Royals gave up at least two runs. Rookie left-hander Gabe Speier and Jesse Hahn were the only ones to escape unscathed.
Whit Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi, Humberto Arteaga and Hunter Dozier collected one hit apiece as the Royals (53-91) were shut out for the 11th time this season. The last time they were held scoreless came at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals on Aug. 14.
Montgomery (3-8) gave up five runs on eight hits (one home run) in four innings. He allowed a first-inning home run to Marlins third baseman Starlin Castro, and the Marlins (51-91) loaded bases later in the inning. But Montgomery limited the damage to one run with the help of an inning-ending double play.
“I knew as the innings went on that the pitch count was elevating, that he was struggling to get quick outs, which generally means you’re grinding through the start,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “I was hoping that he could get us through five and keep us in a spot where we could contain it and score some runs down the way. (Sandy Alcantara) was just really good.”
The fourth inning proved Montgomery’s undoing. He gave up four runs on five hits, including a slow roller up the first-base line that Montgomery elected to pick up instead of letting it potentially roll foul.
“I saw it going foul, but I thought I had a chance to get it real quick and tag him,” Montgomery said. “Just that slight hesitation was enough for him to get by me. Now, instead of two outs it completely changes the inning. Two outs a guy on second is so much different than first and second with one out.”
Montgomery tried to scoop and swipe a tag on Martin Prado as he sped toward first base. The tag missed by the width of a few hairs, and it left the Marlins with runners on first and second with one out.
Isan Diza singled up the middle into center field to drive in a run, but Whit Merrifield’s threw off-target to third base and allowed another run to score and the hitter to advance to third.
Montgomery gave up two more RBI singles in the inning, one by Lewis Brinson and one by Miguel Rojas, to make it a four-run inning and a 5-0 Marlins lead.
“I thought I battled the first three innings, you know, I probably didn’t have my best stuff,” Montgomery said. “Fourth inning, I just couldn’t stop the bleeding after a couple infield hits. That’s part of the game. I’ve got to do a better job of shutting it down after a couple infield hits. I got guys two strikes and didn’t make good pitches at that point.”
Right-hander Kyle Zimmer, who hadn’t pitched since Aug. 30, allowed two runs on one hit and four walks in one inning in relief of Montgomery. Eric Skoglund allowed two runs on three hits, including a pair of doubles, in his one inning out of the bullpen.
Meanwhile, Marlins rookie pitcher Alcantara (5-12) held the Royals to four hits to earn his second shutout of the season. He joined former Marlins ace Dontrelle Willis for the most shutouts by a rookie in club history. Willis also recorded two shutouts in 2003.
Alcantara struck out eight and walked just two.
“You take your hat off to him,” Dozier said. “He pitched a heck of a game. It’s just one of those games where he’s on. I thought we battled, but he did a heck of a job.”
The Royals will have Monday off before beginning a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Tuesday night. Royals right-hander Jakob Junis (9-12, 4.94) is scheduled to start for the Royals.