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Bailey turns back the clock, shuts down Tribe

Right-hander pitches 7 scoreless innings, K's 6 in win vs. Cleveland
@FlannyMLB
April 13, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- The baseball world hasn’t seen this Homer Bailey since 2017. And the baseball world hasn’t seen Bailey this dominant since he was tossing no-hitters many years ago. Bailey, the Royals’ right-hander signed as a free-agent over the winter, tossed seven shutout innings Saturday night in the Royals’

KANSAS CITY -- The baseball world hasn’t seen this Homer Bailey since 2017. And the baseball world hasn’t seen Bailey this dominant since he was tossing no-hitters many years ago.

Bailey, the Royals’ right-hander signed as a free-agent over the winter, tossed seven shutout innings Saturday night in the Royals’ 3-0 win over the Indians at Kauffman Stadium.

Bailey gave up just two hits -- both to No. 8 hitter Brad Miller -- and walked two while striking out six. It was his best outing since Sept. 27, 2017, when he also threw seven shutout innings at Milwaukee.

“How time flies,” Bailey said. “Yeah, it feels good. It feels good to put it altogether.”

After giving up three home runs in his last outing -- all on fastballs -- Bailey’s game plan this time was to keep his four-seamer away from the middle of the plate.

“Going into the game today,” Royals manager Ned Yost said, “he needed just to limit the mistakes with the fastball because the splitter and curveball are really good. That’s what he did today.”

Bailey agreed, saying, “Not as many mistakes tonight. I didn’t catch as much of the plate with the fastball as I did last time out. I was very cognizant of that going into tonight.”

Royals catcher Martin Maldonado knew Bailey was going to be on his game from the minute they finished their pregame bullpen session.

“That’s the best he has looked,” Maldonado said. “He was confident coming out of the bullpen right from the start. He never got into any high-leverage situations. He was in control.”

Bailey, mixing a four-seam fastball with a splitter and a curve that consistently hovered around the knees, only needed to navigate through one jam. With two outs in the fifth, Kevin Plawecki walked and Miller doubled. But Bailey struck out Max Moroff on a 0-2 splitter.

“That’s a pitch he always has confidence with,” Maldonado said. “He believes in that pitch.”

Added Bailey: “Second and third, two outs. That’s one of those make-or-break moments. A base hit scores two and it’s a different game and the momentum switches. That’s one of those where you just take your time and just execute.”

Both teams recognized that Bailey’s pitchability and tempo were spot on. It was Bailey’s first win since May 12 of last season against the Dodgers, and his first home win since Sept. 2017, snapping a 12-start winless streak.

“When guys are clicking like that, guys are clicking,” Plawecki said of Bailey. “He just had it kind of working that way today. Had all three [pitches] going and kept us off balance. Sometimes you got to tip your hat to them."

Defensively, it was a treat to watch, Royals first baseman Ryan O’Hearn said.

“Guys were bouncing around making plays,” O’Hearn said. “It’s always good to be behind someone throwing strikes.”

The Royals scored in the third when Maldonado doubled and, with two outs, Adalberto Mondesi ripped an RBI single to right.

In the fourth, O’Hearn jumped on the first pitch he saw from right-hander Jefry Rodriguez, a changeup, and crushed it over the right-field bullpen for his second homer of the year. It traveled an estimated 429 feet, per Statcast.

“It’s about time our pitching stepped it up,” Bailey said. “Our offense has been outstanding all year. To be able to go out there tonight and pick the offense up was great.”

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