Frazier's heroics, Marsh's pitching leads to late win over Angels

May 11th, 2024

ANAHEIM -- Were you really counting the Royals out?

Down one run with a runner on first in the top of the ninth inning at Angel Stadium on Friday night, rocketed a two-run homer to right field to flip a deficit into a one-run lead and an eventual 2-1 win over the Angels.

Add it to the list of games in which the Royals have rallied for a comeback win this year -- their ninth already in 40 games. Kansas City is also 7-6 in one-run games this season.

And at 24-16, the Royals are now eight games over .500 for the first time since June 1, 2016 (30-22).

"The more you're in [close games], the more you become -- I don't want to say comfortable, but used to it," Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. "Anything can happen, right? Tonight, we got the homer."

It was all the more impressive that the homer came from Frazier, one of just two Royals hitters without one yet this season. It was the first Royals go-ahead home run when trailing in the ninth inning or later since Bobby Witt Jr.'s walk-off grand slam against the Twins on July 28, 2023.

After MJ Melendez knocked his third hit of the game in the ninth – with all three hits registering an exit velocity of 100 mph or harder – Frazier stepped to the plate looking to see a fastball from Carlos Estévez up in the zone. Frazier got into a 2-0 count and felt confident a heater was coming, and it was up and in. Frazier pulled it 364 feet to the right field corner seats.

Frazier, who entered Friday night slashing .169/.289/.195 with just six RBIs, was fired up rounding the bases and when his teammates mobbed him in the dugout with a frenzy.

"I've been working on a lot of different things," Frazier said. "I probably changed ideas 10 times today, to be honest. Just trying to clean up a few things. But last couple of at-bats, just relaxed, let the hands kind of take over. Try not to swing too hard. And it worked out.

"It's been tough. Just trying to get the body out of the way and swing easy."

Frazier knocked a base hit in the seventh and drew a walk in the fifth, but the Royals had little opportunity earlier in the game against Angels starter Griffin Canning.

But the pitching kept the Royals in it yet again. Starter returned from the injured list and looked like he barely missed a beat, tossing 5 1/3 innings with one run allowed, two walks and seven strikeouts. Marsh mixed in his whole arsenal but saw tons of success on his fastball, especially with 10 whiffs on 24 swings (42%) on the pitch. The velocity was a tick up on it, averaging 94.5 mph but maxing out at 98.2 mph when Marsh struck out Matt Thaiss swinging on an elevated heater to end the fourth inning.

It was the hardest pitch Marsh has thrown in his MLB career.

Marsh was on the IL for the minimum 15 days after a comebacker hit him in the elbow on April 24. He said it felt like "a mini offseason," because he could get the rest he needed while working on his mechanics.

The benefits showed up right away Friday night, Marsh's only big mistake coming on a sinker that Jo Adell hit 436 feet out to the rocks in center field in the fifth.

"Tried to use my body better, be a little bit more efficient to get my velocity back," Marsh said. "Arm angle stuff. I felt like the whole reason stuff was barking was probably because I was getting a little too rotational in some stuff. I feel like we took the injured list 15 days as best we could. I really attacked things I needed to work on."

Marsh walked two in the sixth and saw his velocity dip down -- likely because he hadn't thrown over 70 pitches in a few weeks -- so reliever Chris Stratton entered and got out of the jam with a weak groundout and a strikeout.

Four Royals relievers combined for 3 2/3 scoreless innings, including John Schreiber's first save as a Royal and first since last August with the Red Sox.

That allowed the offense to do its thing late Friday. It's a formula the Royals have used over and over again. And it keeps working.

"We're never out of it," said Melendez, who also made a diving catch in the seventh inning. "... The whole pitching staff, keeping us in those games and giving us opportunity after opportunity to score some runs."