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3 takeaways from Royals' loss to Nats

Sparkman, Merrifield and Gordon provide highlights in shutout defeat
@FlannyMLB
July 6, 2019

WASHINGTON -- Here are three takeaways from the Royals’ 6-0 loss to the Nationals on Saturday at Nationals Park. Sparkman comes through Before Saturday’s game, Royals manager Ned Yost was asked how good it would be for starter Glenn Sparkman to give him length, considering how exhausted the Royals’ bullpen

WASHINGTON -- Here are three takeaways from the Royals’ 6-0 loss to the Nationals on Saturday at Nationals Park.

Sparkman comes through
Before Saturday’s game, Royals manager Ned Yost was asked how good it would be for starter Glenn Sparkman to give him length, considering how exhausted the Royals’ bullpen was.

Yost, without skipping a beat, deadpanned, “Oh, he’s going to give me some length. Count on that.”

Box score

The message was clear: Sparkman was going to go deep into the game regardless of his performance. Fortunately, Sparkman, after a rough start, threw six serviceable innings at Nationals Park.

“I thought the way it looked early, they were just going to bash his brains in,” Yost said. “He just kinda did a nice job of settling down and making pitches. I was pleased that he was able to give us six strong.”

Sparkman gave up four runs in the first two innings, including a two-run homer by Kurt Suzuki. But he then threw four scoreless. He gave up nine hits overall, walked two and struck out three.

“I was just trying to make myself relaxed and make pitches,” Sparkman said. “Going into this, I wanted to go as deep as I possibly could.”

The second-inning home run to Suzuki was on a fastball in.

“I was trying to go fastball away, and it ran right back into the barrel,” Sparkman said.

Merrifield steals No. 100
Royals All-Star Whit Merrifield stole his 100th career base in the first inning and became the sixth-fastest Royal in games played to do so.

1. Tom Goodwin (243 games)
2. Willie Wilson (250 games)
3. Jarrod Dyson (296 games)
4. Fred Patek (359 games)
5. Amos Otis (381 games)
6. Merrifield (474 games)

Gordon continues to own Scherzer
Left fielder Alex Gordon was one of the few players to have great success against Max Scherzer when Scherzer was with the Tigers. And Gordon was back pestering him again Saturday.

Gordon reached all three times -- a walk, a single and a double. He now has 16 hits off Scherzer, the most by any left-handed hitter other than Nick Markakis (19).

Gordon is a career .390 hitter off Scherzer.

“I have no idea why,” Gordon said. “I know I hit him pretty good, but I have no idea why. I was talking to somebody today, and I think it’s because I know he’s so good, I lock in a little more and simplify my swing. You saw it today; I was just trying to slap it down the line because he’s so good. You’d think I’d do that against everyone, but apparently not.

“I haven’t faced Scherzer since he came over here, and he’s gotten better. His changeup is better. He has improved a lot.”

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.