Bruce Chen was the chief beneficiary of some great defense in an old fashioned pitcher’s duel on Saturday, retiring the first 18 batters he faced until an Erick Aybar single to lead off the seventh broke up the perfect game.
David DeJesus made two nice plays that tested his range and Wilson Betemit made a nice play on a slow roller in the first. Another ball went right off Chen’s foot and bounced right to Chris Getz at second base for a groundout. It looked almost destined, but even without the no-hitter, Chen pitched a great game, going 7.1 and allowing just that Aybar single and a homerun by Jeff Mathis in the eighth inning. Chen started 18 of the 25 batters he faced with a strike.
For a while, though, Ervin Santana was just as dominant, as he kept the Royals off the scoreboard until the eighth inning and for a while, Scott Podsednik‘s single to lead off the game was the only hit on the board for either team. The Royals finally broke through with a bases loaded single by Jose Guillen scored two with two outs. The Royals added two more in the ninth before Joakim Soria stranded the tying runs on base to lock down the save.
Soria slipped slightly planting his left leg on the mound with one out while facing Bobby Abreu. He limped just a moment around the mound but seemed okay to finish the game. It looked like he may have tweaked his knee a little on the delivery, so we hope that doesn’t turn into a bigger issue than one night.
The win gives the Royals the series already and they go for the sweep tonight on Sunday Night Baseball. The Royals send Anthony “Lash” Lerew against Joel Pineiro. The Royals are 36-45 at the halfway point and 24-22 under Ned Yost.