Brooks, O's hang tough after early struggles

Baltimore overcomes rough 1st, but 7th is sticking point for a second day

September 1st, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- Orioles right-hander was a ninth-round Draft pick of the Royals in 2011, so pitching at Kauffman Stadium on Sunday afternoon was something of a sentimental journey.

“This was my first time back [at Kauffman Stadium] on the opposing side,” Brooks said. “I love the stadium, love the area and know a lot of guys over there [in the Royals’ clubhouse].”

With that said, Brooks emphasized that his primary focus, regardless of the opponent, is to give the Orioles a chance to win whenever he takes the mound. Brooks, despite a rocky first inning, wound up doing just that. But after Baltimore overcame an early three-run deficit to take a 4-3 lead into the seventh, Baltimore saw its bullpen falter late in a 6-4 loss that gave the Royals two wins in the three-game weekend series.

Kansas City batted around in the first and appeared to be on the verge of blowing the game open. But with three runs in and the bases loaded, Brooks struck out Nicky Lopez on a 3-2 pitch. He wound up going 4 1/3 innings and left with the game tied at 3.

“The first inning seems to be hit or miss for me,” Brooks said. “I just kept my mind straight and tried to stay with the same attack that we came up with before the game. I didn’t really have a feel for all of my pitches and I had to grind. I nibbled a little bit and threw too many balls.”

Brooks threw 36 pitches in the first, his longest inning since his second career outing, on May 31, 2014, while pitching for Kansas City.

“He didn’t have his command in the first inning, but he did a nice job of settling down,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “[Brooks] gave us a chance, but we just didn’t hold it late and that’s unfortunate.”

Trailing 3-1, the Orioles tied the game in the third on a two-run single by off Kansas City starter Danny Duffy. Baltimore then jumped ahead in the sixth when singled, stole second, went to third on a throwing error and scored on a fielder’s choice.

The Orioles’ bullpen made that 4-3 lead stand up until the seventh, when the Orioles used three relievers in matchup situations. Alex Gordon drilled a game-tying RBI double off before Meibrys Viloria produced a go-ahead RBI single against after the reliever had walked Cheslor Cuthbert in a righty-versus-righty matchup.

“You like Paul Fry against any left-hander, [but] it doesn’t happen,” Hyde said. “Armstrong comes in against a right-hander and walks him. We just didn’t get it done in the seventh inning.”

The seventh-inning bullpen woes were evident for the second consecutive day. On Saturday, Baltimore took a 5-4 lead to the bottom of the seventh before the Royals rallied to win.

“In the games that we’ve won, we’ve pitched,” Hyde said. “We’ve gotten guys out that we should get out late in the game. In some games that we’ve lost, we’ve had a hard time holding leads.”