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Hernández effective as KC's W streak hits 5

Zimmer earns 1st MLB win; Mondesi, Merrifield go deep
@FlannyMLB
September 13, 2020

KANSAS CITY -- The one thing you can say about Royals rookie right-hander Carlos Hernández, who made his first Major League start Saturday night, is that he didn’t back down to anyone. Hernández pitched three innings and gave up three hits -- all solo home runs -- in the Royals’

KANSAS CITY -- The one thing you can say about Royals rookie right-hander Carlos Hernández, who made his first Major League start Saturday night, is that he didn’t back down to anyone.

Hernández pitched three innings and gave up three hits -- all solo home runs -- in the Royals’ 7-4 victory over the Pirates. Kansas City has won five straight games.

Box score

Two of the home runs off Hernández, the Royals’ No. 12 prospect per MLB Pipeline, came when he was behind in the count, the other with the count full.

Hernández challenged Josh Bell with a 2-0 sinker in the second. Bell belted an opposite-field homer.

Two batters later, Hernández ran the count full to Bryan Reynolds and tried to slip a curveball by him. The pitch hung down the middle and Reynolds drilled it for a homer.

With two outs in the third, Hernández fell behind Adam Frazier, 3-1. Frazier turned on a sinker up and in and hit it out.

But those were the only hits of the night off Hernández, who also didn’t walk anyone and struck out two.

“I thought he had some really good stuff,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “The velocity was there. Even his misses were close misses. There are some things he needs to work on.”

Asked why he pulled Hernández after 42 pitches, Matheny said, “There were a couple things he was doing we thought he could work on better in the bullpen, and that’s what he did afterward. It’s something really simple that he can make the adjustment.”

Here were the other highlights from the night:

• Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi continued his impressive stretch with a two-run homer -- his fourth in a week -- as well as a single, stolen base and a second run scored. Mondesi now has a career-high nine-game hitting streak. He also leads MLB with 16 steals on the season.

“Mondi continues to take those great at-bats,” Matheny said. “He’s getting on base and making things happen.

Added Whit Merrifield, “He’s an electric player. I’ve said before that he’s a potential MVP.”

• Merrifield led off the game with a home run into the left-field bullpen. It was his team-leading ninth homer of the year and his ninth career leadoff homer. Merrifield also had a single and two runs scored. After seeing his average slip in recent days, Merrifield is back up to .267.

“It’s nice to see balls fall in again,” Merrifield said. “Like we’ve said before, in a 60-game season, you’ve got to fix things in a hurry.”

• Royals left fielder Alex Gordon had three hits. One was a bunt single that sat on the grass between the pitcher’s mound and third base. Another was a swinging bunt that traveled nine feet. And the last was a sharp single to left.

• Kansas City’s bullpen continued to deliver, this time picking up Hernández and throwing six innings of one-run ball. Kyle Zimmer earned his first big league win, throwing 2 1/3 scoreless innings and lowering his ERA to 1.35.

“It’s the way he’s progressing,” Matheny said of Zimmer. “He’s not just efficient, but he is getting swings and misses. And all the way around he impresses and improves. Really happy for him.”

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