This new reliever is getting the job done for the KC Royals

Sam Long is making his mark so far in Kansas City.
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Rest assured that the 13 KC Royals who played in Tuesday's unsettling loss to Cleveland have to be feeling much better after the club redeemed itself with a bounce-back victory over the Guardians Thursday afternoon.

Count reliever Sam Long among them.

It was Long, after all, who put two of the three runners who scored on Bobby Witt Jr.'s now infamous seventh inning error that cleared the bases and handed the Guardians an 8-5 win they might not have nabbed otherwise. But Thursday, after Wednesday's weather-induced postponement shortened the teams' scheduled three-game series by a third, Long helped right the ship.

And that shouldn't surprise anyone.

Sam Long has been a nice addition to Kansas City's bullpen

The Royals' bullpen certainly isn't the best in the majors, but it is better than it's been in quite awhile. Closer James McArthur has been shaky at times since blowing two save opportunities in a row to begin May, but his 12 saves, only one fewer than Scott Barlow's club-leading 2023 total), lead the team by far. And while Kansas City's 4.28 ERA is the American League's fifth-worst, it's still much better than last year's distressing 5.23, which was the poorest in the league.

And despite his contribution to Tuesday's loss, let's not judge it too harshly.

Yes, Long replaced starter Seth Lugo with one out, the score tied 5-5, and the bases empty in the seventh, and immediately yielded a single to Daniel Schneeman, than walked José Ramírez after retiring Steven Kwan and Andrés Giménez. Schneeman and Ramiréz soon scored the tie-breaking and go-ahead runs, respectively, off Ángel Zerpa and Witt's error. To blame Long for the loss would be wrong.

To give him credit for how he's pitched since the Royals signed him in December would, however, be right. Besides what he contributed to Thursday's victory — he faced five batters, didn't give up a hit or a run, and ended up with the win after the Royals scored the winning run in the eighth — he'd held opponents scoreless and allowed only one hit in six appearances. He's 1-1 with an 0.00 ERA.

So it is that Long, who came to the Royals after pitching parts of two seasons with San Francisco and part of another with Oakland, is doing just what the club needs him to do. He's been an important part of the relief corps' turnaround.

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