Excellent pitching, good hitting boost KC Royals to series win

Rookie Alec Marsh nabs first big league victory as KC bats click.
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For those wondering if KC Royals rookie Alec Marsh would ever notch a big league win, wonder no more. Marsh took care of that business in Chicago Wednesday night.

Marsh, winless in eight starts and five relief appearances before receiving the evening's bulk man assignment, held the White Sox mostly at bay in the teams' final meeting of the season. He gave up only a run, allowed the Sox just three hits, and struck out five to corral that heretofore evasive first pitching victory, and is now 1-8. And the Royals headed home with a 7-1 win which, combined with their split of Tuesday's doubleheader, gave them a rare 2023 series win and enabled them to take the teams' 13-game season series by a single game.

The victory also means Kansas City didn't take yet another step toward becoming the worst club in franchise history — at 46-101, the Royals remain six losses shy of breaking the 2005 team's record of 106 defeats.

But back to Marsh ... and others.

Chicago couldn't solve Alec Marsh or any other KC Royals pitcher Wednesday

Marsh, as his numbers prove, pitched well, which isn't particularly surprising considering some of his previous efforts — he struck out 11 and surrendered only two runs in six innings against Tampa Bay July 15, fanned six and allowed just one run in five innings against Seattle Aug. 16, struck out nine and yielded three runs over 5.2 frames in each of two straight appearances Aug. 21 (Oakland) and Aug. 27 (Seattle), and struck out another six while permitting Toronto only one run in four innings Sept. 8.

And although pitching wins aren't the statistical be-all, end-all they once were, finally chalking one up had to be satisfying for Marsh.

Don't assume, though, that he was the only KC hurler against whom Chicago struggled. Rookie Steven Cruz, who'd appeared five times since the Royals brought him up from Triple-A Omaha late last month, opened, threw two innings, and set a proper table for Marsh by striking out four and allowing only former Royal Andrew Benintendi, who nicked him for a ground-rule double, to get as far as second base.

James McArthur, another Royal rookie, took over in the seventh after Marsh gave up no-out hits to Yoán Moncada and Andrew Vaughn, and Moncada scored Chicago's first — and only — run on a Bobby Witt Jr. error, before he struck out Gavin Sheets. McArthur made short work of the Sox by getting Elvis Andrus to ground into an inning-ending double play, then retired the Sox in order in the eighth.

That left Tucker Davidson to put a wrap on the win, which he did with a three-up, three-down ninth.

The KC Royals scored more than enough runs to secure their victory

Their excellent pitching gave the Royals some margin for error Wednesday night, but they didn't need it. In fact, Michael Massey, who may need a pretty good September at the plate to secure a starting position for 2024, actually gave his club more than enough for the night when he belted a two-run homer in the second. The blast was his 13th of the season, second of the series, and sixth against the Sox this year.

And spurred by run-scoring singles by Nick Loftin and Witt, who finished the night with two hits apiece, and Salvador Perez, who had three, Kansas City scored three runs in the seventh inning before adding two more in the ninth.

The Royals have Thursday off before returning to Kauffman Stadium for their next-to-last homestand of the season. They'll face American League West Division-leading Houston Friday night, Saturday evening, and Sunday afternoon before hosting Cleveland next week.

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