Pasquantino, Royals show 'no brakes' in resounding sweep

1B's first MLB triple caps Royals' surge to 10 games over .500 for 1st time since 2015

May 19th, 2024

KANSAS CITY -- With his uniform fully buttoned up after Saturday night’s win and feeling “like a businessman,” knew he had to be ready for a big moment Sunday. He didn’t start Sunday’s series finale against A’s lefty JP Sears, but with the way Royals manager Matt Quatraro utilizes his bench, Pasquantino was preparing in the batting cage by the third inning.

“Just for that one opportunity,” Pasquantino said. “Because I know I’m not coming into the game for my speed, so I know the situations I’m coming in for are typically going to be high-leverage, big situations to drive some runs in.”

It turns out both were true.

After the A’s intentionally walked Michael Massey to load the bases, Pasquantino stepped to the plate to pinch-hit for Garrett Hampson against righty reliever Tyler Ferguson in the sixth inning. High-leverage situation with the Royals -- then up by one run -- looking for runs from Pasquantino? Check and check.

But Pasquantino flashed a little bit of speed, too, when he knocked a ground ball down the right-field line for his first career triple, clearing the bases and opening up the Royals’ lead in their eventual 8-4 win to sweep the A’s at Kauffman Stadium.

“I’m always thinking triple out of the box,” Pasquantino quipped. “I’m always digging for three. Whenever I hit a ground ball, especially, I’m always thinking three.

“I looked over at [third base coach] Vance [Wilson] at third base, and he was waving the runner in front of me home, so I said, ‘You know what, I’m going to give this a shot.’”

The Royals' dugout was fired up for their 6-foot-4, 245-pound first baseman recording his first-ever MLB triple. Sure, coming through for the team was great, Salvador Perez said, but more impressive was the three bases.

“He runs like a truck,” Perez said. “Sorry, Vinnie.”

“I don’t think that’s a compliment,” Pasquantino said. “Depends on what kind of truck and if you’re moving downhill or uphill. I’m going to assume he meant an 18-wheeler going downhill with no brakes. So, thank you, Salvy.”

You don’t want to stop an 18-wheeler going downhill, and there’s really no stopping the Royals right now, either. The weekend sweep pushed the Royals (29-19) to 10 games over .500, a mark they haven’t been at since the end of the 2015 season, the year they won the World Series. They’ve won eight of their last 11 games and are 1 1/2 games behind the Guardians in the American League Central.

The Royals are playing winning baseball as the weather heats up, and Kauffman Stadium is starting to fill in again. Every game this weekend had more than 20,000 fans in attendance, and players are feeding off of the energy.

“We know when we come into the clubhouse every day, we know we have a chance to win,” said Bobby Witt Jr., who was 2-for-3 on Sunday with two RBIs.

A big reason why is because of the starting pitching, and this weekend against the 19-30 A’s was no different. With Brady Singer allowing one run in six innings Sunday, Royals starters posted a 1.45 ERA this series, with 26 strikeouts across 18 2/3 innings. Singer contributed nine punchouts Sunday with just one walk.

Singer was efficient through three innings but saw his pitch count rise when he got into some jams. In the fifth, Singer loaded the bases with two outs but got Brent Rooker to ground out softly to third base.

And in the sixth, the A’s had runners on first and third, but Singer struck out Max Schuemann on a slider.

“I just want to limit the damage,” Singer said. “And make good pitches. Try not to leave stuff down the middle of the plate. Obviously, Rooker with the bases loaded is a really big situation, to be able to get him to ground out was a big part of the game.”

Like so many games before, the Royals' offense put together the big inning it needed in the bottom of the sixth.

Pasquantino got to two strikes early against Ferguson on a fastball and sweeper away but choked up, widened his stance and looked to put the ball in play away from the middle of the infield.

“Certainly the biggest spot in the game to open it up right there,” Quatraro said. “But he’s ready to hit. He’s always going to be ready to hit. He’s been trying to get out of this funk he’s been in, but he was prepared. It wasn’t like he was just hanging out today. He knew that if a big spot came up, he was going to be in there.”