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Here's what a healthy Homer Bailey can do

Royals righty tosses 2nd straight quality start; Soler, O'Hearn go deep
@ladsonbill24
April 18, 2019

NEW YORK -- Right-hander Homer Bailey showed on Thursday night that he could be a candidate for American League Comeback Player of the Year. He pitched six solid innings and helped the Royals defeat the Yankees, 6-1, at Yankee Stadium. The Royals have won five of their last seven games

NEW YORK -- Right-hander Homer Bailey showed on Thursday night that he could be a candidate for American League Comeback Player of the Year. He pitched six solid innings and helped the Royals defeat the Yankees, 6-1, at Yankee Stadium.

The Royals have won five of their last seven games and improved their record to 7-12.

Bailey kept the Yankees off balance with his split-fingered fastball, slider and cutter. In those six innings, he allowed three hits, and two them came in the first inning, when the Yankees scored their only run on a sacrifice fly by Gleyber Torres. The next and last hit off Bailey didn’t come until the fourth inning, when Clint Frazier singled to center field.

“It seemed like his split was a problem for us,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “We were having a hard time laying off that pitch out of the zone. When he's been good, that's a pitch that's really effective for him. He was keeping us honest with his fastball and able to throw strikes, but the split-finger was a really good pitch for him. We hit some balls hard against him, but for the most part he kept us pretty silent.”

Bailey knew the Yankees were coming off two great wins against the Red Sox. But he also knew they were missing key players because of injuries.

“They don’t have all their guys, but they are still a really solid club over there,” Bailey said. "Tonight was a complete Royals win. You saw how good our offense was. The defense has been fantastic. The bullpen came in and they really locked it down the last couple of innings. We feel really good as a team right now with these types of wins.”

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As good as he was, don’t tell Bailey that he is back to being the pitcher who recorded two no-hitters with the Reds.

“Not even a little bit,” Bailey said. “It’s April. It’s still pretty early. No more expectations other than be prepared for the next start.”

It was Bailey’s second straight quality start. This past Saturday, he blanked the Indians for seven innings.

Bailey said he made mechanical tweaks to his delivery, putting himself in better position to make pitches and be consistent. He credits pitching coach Cal Eldred and catcher Martín Maldonado for his success thus far.

“That’s a guy that goes out there and competes on every pitch,” Maldonado said. “He doesn’t give in. The last two games have been more of the Bailey I used to remember.”

Manager Ned Yost is not surprised that Bailey has been successful since signing a Minor League deal with the Royals on Feb. 9. The signing came almost two months after the Dodgers acquired his services from the Reds and released him that same day.

“He has been doing it all spring,” Yost said. “I think he feels good where he is at. Him and Cal have worked real hard to make some mechanical adjustments in his game. Really, from the first day that we had him in Spring Training and all his games -- tonight is about what you have seen. He has thrown the ball really, really well for us.”

This is the same Homer Bailey who had problems getting people out and staying healthy last year. Bailey, who went 1-14 with a 6.09 ERA in 20 starts for the Reds in 2018, already surpassed that win total, thanks to the six runs the Royals put up on Thursday. Jorge Soler and Ryan O'Hearn highlighted the scoring with solo home runs.

“Wins are precious,” Bailey said. “Sometimes, they can be few and far between. You enjoy them when they come. You forget about them and try to prepare for your next start.”

Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. He covered the Nationals/Expos from 2002-2016. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.