Kansas City Royals take the series behind timely hitting up and down the lineup

KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 2: Whit Merrifield
KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 2: Whit Merrifield /

On Thursday, I was worried about the prospect of the Kansas City Royals losing this series to the Minnesota Twins and what that might mean for the season’s second half. Turns out, I shouldn’t have worried at all.

The Kansas City Royals rolled to a 6-2 victory on Sunday, staking their third win of the series and pulling into a tie for second with the Twins, three games behind the Indians and a half-game behind Tampa Bay for the second Wild Card.

The Central is bad. The American League in general is not amazing, outside of about four teams, and maybe not even that many. With half a season to go, many, many things are still up in the air.

One of the things that’s probably no longer up in the air is the performance of young Whit Merrifield. The Whitster provided the Kansas City Royals first blow, driving in Alex Gordon with a double in the third inning before scoring on an Eric Hosmer double later in the inning. Merrifield went 3-for-5 on the day, bumping his average up to .286 on the season.

The Royals capped a three-run third inning with a run-scoring Salvador Perez single, which scored Hosmer.

In the next inning, Alcides Escobar doubled home Ramon Torres, then scored on a Gordon single. That gave starting pitcher Travis Wood (???) a five-run lead, which even Travis Wood couldn’t ultimately give away, despite his best attempts. After a fairly easy first four innings, Wood issued a walk to Byron Buxton, a single to Jason Castro and a single to Brian Dozier, scoring Buxton and expediting Wood’s exit from the ballgame.

Scott Alexander came in, surrendered a run-scoring single to Robbie Grossman—scoring Castro—and getting the Twins as close as they would get for the game’s remainder. In the following inning, Escobar would single, scoring Jorge Soler—after having three multi-RBI games in the previous two months, Esky has two in the first in three days of July. He’s hitting .307 since June 1, for what it’s worth.

Speaking of the bullpen, it wasn’t just a fine day for Alexander, although he certainly earned his season’s first win with two scoreless innings. Peter Moylan, Joakim Soria and Kelvin Hererra each had scoreless outings and combined with Wood, what was essentially a staff day suddenly turned into a solid pitching performance overall—eight hits, two earned, three walks, eight strikeouts.

Circling back to Whit Merrifield, he stole three bases on the day, his ninth, 10th and 11th of the season. Although his .222 average from the leadoff spot isn’t optimal, he’s at least displaying the wheels for the role.

Next: Salvy a starter at Midsummer Classic

The Kansas City Royals open a three-game series in Seattle, Monday. Ian Kennedy will take the ball as the Royals finish the pre-All Star break schedule with a six-game West Coast swing.