KANSAS CITY -- Add another name to the list of candidates for the Royals' 2019 rotation.Right-hander Glenn Sparkman, in only his third career start, held the American League Central champion Indians to one run on five hits over five innings Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals won, 2-1, on
KANSAS CITY -- Add another name to the list of candidates for the Royals' 2019 rotation.
Right-hander Glenn Sparkman, in only his third career start, held the American League Central champion Indians to one run on five hits over five innings Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals won, 2-1, on Salvador Perez's two-out walk-off single in the 10th, which scored Raul Mondesi.
Mondesi had walked and swiped second and third base, putting him at 30 steals for the season.
"Mondi's steals were great," Perez said. "He's becoming one of the best shortstops in the league right now. The way he plays defense, the at-bats. He had a great [plate appearance] in the 10th."
Royals manager Ned Yost also raved about Mondesi's walk in the 10th.
"His patience was fantastic," Yost said. "You keep thinking, 'OK, if you get on, the chances of us winning this ballgame are going to be great,' even with two outs, because you know he's going to, boom, put himself in scoring position and we're just a hit away. Great by Mondi to take a walk, laid off a back-foot slider. It just shows you his growth. Last year, that was an automatic swing 3-2 for a strikeout. He's made tremendous strides there."
While Danny Duffy, Brad Keller, Jakob Junis and Ian Kennedy likely will be the top four in the rotation, Sparkman certainly will get a look next spring along with Jorge Lopez, Heath Fillmyer, Eric Skoglund and others.
Sparkman walked none and struck out two over his career-high five innings, throwing 78 pitches. The one run off Sparkman was somewhat tainted: Francisco Lindor singled in the first and went to second when first baseman Ryan O'Hearn couldn't handle Sparkman's pickoff throw for an error. Lindor went to third on a balk and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jose Ramirez.
"We knew going in that it was going to be a 75-pitch count for him," Yost said. "He pitched a great game. Had some [bad] luck in the first inning. ... He very easily could've shut them out."
The Royals tied the game at 1 in the third, when Mondesi belted his 13th home run on a 2-0 cutter from Josh Tomlin.
Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a first-inning single. Merrifield, last year's American League steals leader, then swiped second for his 42nd stolen base of the season, which again leads the AL. Merrifield singled again in the seventh for his 188th hit of the season, most in the Majors.
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Mondesi made a tremendous play in the eighth to keep the game tied at 1. With runners on second and third and two outs, Mondesi ranged far to his right to grab a ground ball off the bat of Yandy Diaz. While still moving to his right, Mondesi threw against his body, firing a strike to O'Hearn just in time to beat a head-first sliding Diaz.
"That is a play in that situation that very few shortstops are going to make," Yost said, "because it does require such athleticism, such range and such arm strength to be able to complete that play."
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Merrifield was initially called out on his first-inning steal attempt, which came after his leadoff single and with Mondesi at the plate. However, the Royals challenged that Merrifield avoided the attempted tag by Lindor and touched the bag before Lindor's glove contacted Merrifield's body. After a brief review, the call was overturned and Merrifield had his 42nd steal of the year.
Right-hander Ian Kennedy (3-8, 4.59 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals in the second game of the series with the Indians at 7:15 p.m. CT. Right-hander Mike Clevinger (12-8, 3.07) will pitch for the Tribe. Kennedy gave up two earned runs over seven innings last Friday in Detroit, earning his third win. It was his third straight outing of six or more innings.
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.