Royals manager Mike Matheny has talked all season about the need for his team to learn to win games late.
Former Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal picked up his seventh save in the win, getting a huge strikeout of Tommy Edman with runners on first and third and one out. Rosenthal then got Paul Goldschmidt on a groundout to end it.
“He’ll get you to the top step,” Matheny said of Rosenthal. “But he makes great pitches when he needs to. He reached back when he needed to. Just a great job by the bullpen overall.”
Rosenthal, who will be a free agent after this season, naturally has become a hot name in the rumor mill as the Aug. 31 Trade Deadline approaches.
“There's no question that this is where I want to be,” Rosenthal said. “This is the team I'm invested in, and I believe we can win. I believe that started tonight.”
But the play of the game came with right-hander Scott Barlow pitching in the bottom of the eighth. With one out and Paul DeJong on first, Yadier Molina just missed hitting a homer to left. The ball caromed off the wall directly to left fielder Whit Merrifield, who threw a strike to shortstop Adalberto Mondesi, who threw a one-hop laser to catcher Cam Gallagher to nail DeJong trying to score the tying run.
Mondesi’s throw home was measured at 91 mph per Statcast, his hardest throw of the season.
"That kid is incredible," McBroom said of Mondesi. "It’s something new every day with him. It’s unbelievable what he can do, which is why he’s one of the best in the league."
Added Matheny, “That relay from Whit to Mondi was great. We’ll be watching that one for awhile. And that allowed Mondi to be Mondi. He can change a game. Even when he’s not getting multihit games, he is fun to watch.”
Here are three ups and three downs from Tuesday’s game.
O’Hearn goes oppo: It’s well-known that when Royals first baseman Ryan O'Hearn is in a groove offensively, he uses the opposite field. O’Hearn, who singled in the second inning, came up with two on and two out in the third and stroked a curveball from Adam Wainwright into left-center for an RBI single. O’Hearn is now 10-for-20 with runners in scoring position, best on the team.
O’Hearn also homered, his first of the season.
“Just a great overall game from Ryan O’Hearn,” Matheny said. “And he got that monkey off the back with that first homer.”
Gallagher stays sharp: It’s certainly not easy keeping one’s offensive timing being a backup catcher. But Gallagher continues to be effective at the plate despite limited playing time. He lined out sharply in the third inning, then lined a double into the right-center-field gap to lead off the fifth. Gallagher eventually scored, pulling the Royals within 4-3. He has now has reached base in seven consecutive games. Gallagher also lined out hard in the seventh inning.
Kennedy needed that: Matheny has been desperately trying to get right-hander Ian Kennedy right this season. Kennedy led the Royals with 30 saves last season but lost his closer’s role to Rosenthal early on this season. And Kennedy has struggled mightily, allowing runs in seven of his 10 outings while posting an 8.49 ERA. But Kennedy got a 1-2-3 inning the sixth on Tuesday, perhaps a big step forward.
Harvey’s déjà vu: Right-hander Matt Harvey made his second start for the Royals and it looked all too familiar, virtually a carbon copy of his first outing when he breezed through 2 2/3 innings before allowing three runs. This time, Harvey breezed through 2 1/3 innings before hitting a wall. Harvey allowed a single and issued a walk, and then surrendered a two-out, two-run double to Tommy Edman. After another walk, Harvey gave up singles to Brad Miller and Paul DeJong before exiting.
In all, Harvey threw 54 pitches and allowed five hits and four runs.
“I don’t think it’s an issue of stuff at all,” Harvey said. “It’s just a matter of me trying to be too fine and nitpicking and thinking I need to be perfect. It’s not ideal to be taken out in the third inning. That’s not helping the bullpen at all.”
3-0 hacking: When Hunter Dozier swung at a 3-0 pitch and flied out in the fifth inning, it marked the 15th time this season the Royals have hacked at a 3-0 pitch, by far the most in MLB -- Atlanta is next with 10. The Royals have had two hits swinging on a 3-0 pitches: an Alex Gordon homer and a Dozier pop-fly single on Friday. They've also hit into three double plays on 3-0 pitches.
Too many K's: Royals designated hitter Jorge Soler led the American League in strikeouts last season with 178. And striking out is still an issue in 2020. Soler struck out two more times Tuesday and now has 43 in 107 at-bats.