The Royals have won consecutive games for the first time in 2020, as they downed the Rangers 5-4 at Surprise Stadium on Tuesday afternoon. The Royals were the visiting team, however, as Texas played their first spring game as the home team.
Whit Merrifield led off the game with a wind-aided triple, but was left stranded. This gave way to Jorge Lopez, who started the game, and, simply put, dominated in his 2.2 innings of work. The bullpen candidate struck out five of the ten batters he faced, including the first three batters in a row. He found himself in a bit of trouble to begin the second inning, allowing a leadoff single for Todd Frazier and a walk to Greg Bird. However, Lopez managed to induce three consecutive flyouts to end the Ranger threat.
The scoring began in the Royals’ second turn at bat, with their second triple of the game (this one courtesy of Kyle Isbel). Humberto Arteaga hit a ground ball up the middle to Elvis Andrus and although he was forced out at first base, Isbel was able to score. Old nemesis Cody Allen then took over to relieve Rangers starter Taylor Hearn and allowed Nicky Lopez to get his first hit of the spring. A wild pitch on a walk to Hunter Dozier let Lopez advance to third, and he scored on another passed ball later in the inning.
Ryan McBroom hit his first home run of the spring as well during the inning, which was a two-run shot that sliced into the roaring wind and extended the Royals’ lead to four runs. The offense was quiet until the eighth inning, when a leadoff Erick Mejia double put him in scoring position for Brewer Hicklen, who drove him in with a double of his own. The Rangers scored two runs thanks to a Rougned Odor triple, but the game was 5-2 heading into the ninth inning.
Besides a hiccup from Daniel Tillo, who made his big league Spring Training debut, Royals pitching was as good as anyone could ask for. Chance Adams had a nice bounce-back outing, picking up two strikeouts in 1.1 innings of work. Other notable names include Arnoldo Hernandez, who had a disappointing year in Omaha in 2019, pitched a scoreless inning with a strikeout, while Andres Machado also made his first appearance of the spring.
Machado, who pitched in two Major League games in 2017, allowed two unearned runs, as the defense of the Royals’ nearly-completely Minor League defense faltered in the final inning of play. An error by Hicklen in right field allowed Sam Huff to reach base. Huff then went to second base on an errant pickoff throw by Machado, and a third error (this time committed by Emmanuel Rivera at third base) followed a walk to move the score to 5-3 Royals. Another walk loaded the bases, and a groundout made it a one-run game. Matt Duffy, a former second-place finisher for the National League’s Rookie of the Year Award, flew out to end the game, securing Machado’s first save of the spring and the Royals’ second win.
Trevor Rosenthal was also scheduled to pitch today, but was seemingly M.I.A. from game action. It was later revealed that he was dealing with calf tightness and will be fine moving on. In addition, Maikel Franco is slated to return to the lineup tomorrow after being hit in the face by a throw.
The Royals moved to 2-2 on the young spring, while the Rangers fell back to the .500 mark. Tomorrow the Royals will play a split squad, with both games having a 2:05 start time. Foster Griffin will get the start in the home game against the greatly-improved Chicago White Sox, while Brady Singer will be given the nod against the Chicago Cubs. In addition to Singer, Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch, and Kris Bubic are all scheduled to pitch, making this a game many fans will not want to miss. It will also be the first televised Spring Training game of the year to feature the Royals, as the Cubs’ broadcast will be available out-of-market on MSN.
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