KANSAS CITY -- If nothing else, Royals Gold Glove outfielder Alex Gordon got to live out a childhood fantasy: He got to pitch in the big leagues.
With the Royals down by a dozen runs going into the seventh inning, manager Ned Yost decided to give Gordon his chance on the mound. He went 1 1/3 innings, giving up five hits and three runs in the 19-4 loss to the A’s on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium.
The most runs allowed by the Royals in a game was 22 against the Red Sox in 1994.
“Alex has been asking me to pitch for about 10 years,” Yost said. “I figured what the heck. He did great. My mindset was, I was going to make a dream come true for Alex and pitch him one inning. But he threw the ball well in his first inning and it was relatively quick. I’m like, ‘OK, you can go back out the second time.’ But I said, ‘Don’t get stupid.’ He said he wouldn’t.”
Gordon said Yost’s version is a little off.
“I don’t think I’ve been begging him for 10 years,” Gordon said, smiling. “I did a little this year, offering my service to come in and pitch. Tonight it was a situation where the bullpen was kind of beat up. They asked me. Actually, I asked them. I asked [bench coach] Dale [Sveum] in the fifth inning.”
The last time Gordon stepped on the mound?
“College summer baseball after my freshman year,” he said. “Same situation, I was begging the coach to let me pitch. He let me throw a little.”
Gordon began loosening up in the cages around the fifth inning.
“I was just trying to find my slot,” Gordon said. “I sunk down a little and it helped me throw strikes. Actually my ball kind of ran a little bit.”
Gordon’s only big mistake came in the seventh when he gave up a projected 447-foot home run, according to Statcast, to Matt Chapman.
“I was smiling at Chapman,” Gordon said. “Our guys were telling me to throw a changeup, but every time I did, they crushed it. I should have just stuck to my fastball or sinker or whatever it was. But my first changeup was to Chapman and obviously he crushed it. I was kind of laughing at him as he was running around the bases.
“He smiled back at me. He didn’t really want to show me up or anything. I was just trying to joke around with him. He’s a good hitter and I was a little nervous when he came up because of the kind of season he’s had. I knew it might be trouble.”
Gordon gave up three more hits, a walk, and two more runs in the eighth before Yost opted for shortstop Humberto Arteaga, who got the final two outs of the eighth inning.
Many fans in attendance felt like Gordon might have gotten squeezed at times by home-plate umpire Mike Everitt.
“I thought I might have been getting squeezed, too,” Gordon said. “But then you go look at the replay, and it wasn’t close. I did think I was throwing harder, like maybe 88. Then, I looked up and it was 81. I was a little depressed over that.”
Gordon got a huge ovation as he left the mound and walked toward the dugout after his outing. He was the first Royals position player to enter the game as a pitcher in the seventh inning or earlier. Prior to Gordon and Arteaga, Chris Owings, now with the Red Sox, was the previous position player to pitch for Kansas City on May 16 against Texas.
“I had a slider working in my second inning,” Gordon said. “I think if I had gone one more inning, I might have gotten a punchout.”
Royals right-hander Brad Keller was saddled with the shortest start of his brief big league career. His previous shortest start came on July 13, 2018, when he lasted only 2 2/3 innings against the White Sox and gave up seven hits and five runs.
This time, after a snappy 1-2-3 first, Keller lost command of his pitches in the second. He gave up two soft singles with one out, then walked three straight hitters, forcing in two runs.
Keller then left a fastball middle-middle and Marcus Semien belted a three-run triple. That was the end of Keller’s outing after 1 1/3 innings and five runs allowed.
“I just didn’t feel like I had my best stuff,” Keller said. “I was trying to find it while I was out there. It just really snowballed on me. I didn’t make the right adjustment when I needed to. Three walks and a triple later kinda chased me out of the game. But yeah, just a mechanical thing we have to go back and adjust.”