It was a rough night in the Kansas City Royals organization, as the minor league teams picked up four losses in five games.
It negated the solid spot start of P.J. Walters, who allowed three runs on four hits and two walks over five innings. He struck out six. Two of the runs scored on a home run.
The Storm Chasers offense picked up nine hits (just two for extra bases), but went 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position and hit into two double plays.
The ugly game of the night was in Midland, as NW Arkansas lost 20-8. The two teams combined for 36 hits. Manager Vance Wilson was gone after two innings for arguing a run scoring on a sac fly from second base. The RockHounds went 11-for-23 with runners in scoring position.
Both teams had six run innings.
The Naturals collected 13 hits, as all nine hitters had at least one hit. Justin Trapp collected three hits, while Angel Franco and Ethan Chapman each had two. Jorge Bonifacio hit his first homer of the season, a two out grand slam in the sixth.
Jason Adam took the loss, as he allowed eight runs (six earned) on seven hits and two walks over three innings. The bullpen was not any better, as Andy Ferguson, Andrew Triggs, Hassan Pena, and Malcom Culver all saw their ERAs balloon.
In Wilmington‘s home opener, the Blue Rocks lost to Myrtle Beach, 5-3.
The Royals first round pick, Sean Manaea, was making his professional debut and it wasn’t quite what many expected. His velocity was there in the early going (91-93mph), but it fell off a bit later. His line may be a bit deceiving (3.1 IP, 3H, 4R, 3ER, BB, 5K) because his defense was a little shaky behind him.
Blue Rocks manager Darryl Kennedy said after the game that Manaea threw much better in spring training and he didn’t have his usual control. He also thought that maybe he was a little “too hyped”.
Manaea admitted that he felt good in the second and third innings (he only threw eight pitches in the third), but that his mechanics were breaking down in the fourth and he hit a wall. “Kind of sucked,” he said.
Manaea was asked about pitching in the home opener: “It’s the largest crowd I’ve pitched in front of.” There was a little over 5,600 in attendance at Frawley Stadium. But he did not feel any extra pressure going in because he was supposed to pitch the second game (in Winston-Salem), but stayed behind in Arizona because of some shoulder soreness. That may be something to keep an eye on.
For those of you who checked out the abbreviated video of Manaea talking to us media members after the game (I apologize for the shortness but my batteries died in the cold), you will notice the ‘stache. I saw him in spring training and there really wasn’t much there. He said what he has now is a two month project, but he plans on keeping it going all season.
The Blue Rocks offense had chances to tack on runs, but like any other Royals affiliated team, they struggled with men on base. As Kennedy said after the game, “It’s frustrating, but that’s baseball.” Case in point, with two on and one out in the fifth, Bubba Starling hit a three-run home run. In the 7th inning with runners at second and third base and one out, he struck out (as did Hunter Dozier).
As for his opposite field homer on a 3-2 pitch (which looked like ball four), Starling said “I just swung my hands at it and it got out.” It may have been a little wind blown too.
Kevin McCarthy picked up the win with three hitless innings of relief (he walked two).
The Legends lost the second game, 3-0. Austin Fairchild took the loss despite not allowing a hit through six innings. He did allow an unearned run in the first and walked three. He struck out seven.
The Braves collected two hits and two runs in the seventh against Cesar Ogando.
The Legends also only had two hits. Their first came in the very first inning on a Humberto Arteaga single (he was erased on a double play). The second hit came in the seventh, an Elier Hernandez single with two outs. In between, their only base runners reached on errors (two of them).