It was a pitching duel between the Royals and the Rockies. The hits were scattered throughout the game and the Royals had just enough runs to win 3-2. Edinson Volquez was in mid season form and did not allow a hit nor a walk. The only base runner was on a HBP to Tom Murphy in the first three innings. Batted balls rarely got out of the infield. Joakim Soria (1 IP) and Miguel Almonte (3 IP) dominated the next four innings giving up a run on three hits while striking out four Rox hitters. Brian Duensing and Ross Ohlendorf tossed one inning each to close out the game in a victory.
The Rox hitters were not up to the task today hitting mostly grounders or striking out. The two exceptions were Trevor Story and Cristian Adames. Story went one for three, hitting a towering fly ball that caromed off the top of the fence in left center field for a double. He was driven home by the next batter, Ben Paulsen, with a single. The other time Story hit a long fly with too much air underneath that was caught along the RF foul line. Adames replaced Story and launched a solo shot in the ninth to right field to make it a one-run game.
Dan Descalso continued to struggle in his two at-bats with yet another K. He did have the misfortune of barreling up for the first time in the Cactus League but lined right at the first base bag for a double play. Like Descalso, Rafael Ynoa did not contribute much today. If spring training was to end today, Adames win the first utility spot hands down. Ryan Raburn hasn’t played yet but he’s already making Brandon Barnes look over his shoulder since Barnes also petered out today.
On the bright side, the pitching staff did very well. Jordan Lyles pitched very well except for one mistake pitch (Paulo Orlando solo HR). He went three innings giving up two hits and a walk to go with two Ks. Lyles surprised me today as he was throwing fastballs between 94 and 96. Wasn’t he in the lower 90s before this season? Shane Carle redeemed himself from his disastrous Cactus League debut mixing his pitches very well to keep the hitters off balance in his two innings of work. Jason Motte gave up a two-run inside-the park home run in the sixth. The problem was that the CF and LF converged at the spot where the ball hit off the fence and rolled all the way halfway back to the infield. Fundamental outfield defense should have one going for the ball at the fence while the other outfielder should back up. Scott Oberg was very sharp in the eighth inning and Gonzalez Germen had a good day.
Today was the first time I went to Surprise Stadium and it is a beautiful ballpark. Most of the infield seats between first and third base were in the shade. Parking was free! The announced attendance was 5,816. Getting in and out of the parking lot was easy. The Royals fans were very good as they stayed until the last pitch. Most games the fans start leaving in about the sixth when the substitutes start coming into the game.