KANSAS CITY -- On a day all about the Royals' offense pouring it on the Padres early and late and a couple times in between, too, the clubhouse opted to give its player of the game award to a pitcher who came up clutch in a big spot.
Scott Barlow earned the award from his teammates postgame after the Royals' reliever came in to face one of the best hitters in baseball, Juan Soto, with two on and two outs and the Royals leading by three in the top of the eighth Sunday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.
Barlow got Soto to pop out in foul territory, and the Royals proceeded to score six runs in the bottom of the frame to blow open their 15-7 rout of the Padres.
“Everybody kind of had something to do with today’s game, which makes me feel that much better heading into an off-day,” manager Mike Matheny said.
Kansas City jumped on former Royals Draft pick Sean Manaea for five runs in the first inning and stung reliever Josh Hader for six more in the eighth. In between, the Royals kept the romp going even as the Padres tried to mount a comeback against starter Jonathan Heasley, who allowed four runs (three earned) in five innings with a career-high seven strikeouts.
Here’s a by-the-numbers breakdown of how the Royals outlasted the Padres:
15: Season-high in runs
The Royals scored a season-high 15 runs after scoring a total of 42 runs in their previous 15 games combined (2.8 per game). It marked their highest-scoring game in more than three years, since May 4, 2019, in Detroit (15) and their highest-scoring game at Kauffman Stadium in five years, since July 20, 2017, against the Tigers (16).
“It was just one right after the other,” Matheny said. “We saw good at-bats from multiple guys today, just about everyone in the lineup, and then a couple guys who came off the bench and figured out a way to contribute. One of those relentless push offensive days.”
3: Times batting around
The Royals batted around in the first, sixth and eighth innings, marking the third time they've batted around three times in one game in franchise history, following June 8, 2006, against the Rangers, and Aug. 10, 1996, against the Angels.
“I think you build momentum, and the more pitches you make the pitcher throw, he’s got to expose his stuff a little bit,” Michael A. Taylor said. “You just build off what the last guy did. … The more guys you can get to the plate, the better.”
6: Times Taylor has hit a leadoff homer in his career
After Manny Machado took Heasley deep in the top of the first inning, Taylor answered right back with his sixth career leadoff homer. Taylor was batting leadoff Sunday because MJ Melendez got a day off, and the Royals hoped he would be an “igniter” for them, Matheny said.
With three hits and four RBIs, it's safe to say Taylor lived up to that billing.
It’s been six years since Taylor last hit a leadoff homer, but it was against the same team. When he was with the Nationals, Taylor hit a leadoff homer against Drew Pomeranz on June 19, 2016, in San Diego.
Against Manaea, Taylor drove a 410-foot shot into left-center field.
It’s been a tough August for Taylor, who entered Sunday with a .441 OPS this month. His last multi-RBI game was July 25, and he was four-for-his-last-36 when he stepped to the plate in the first inning.
“I’ve dealt with timing issues, I feel like my swing kind of got away from me a little bit, seeing length in my swing that wasn’t there earlier,” Taylor said. So just trying to get back to the drills that I believe in and the things that are going to help.
“Whenever you can get a couple of knocks, it always takes a little bit of the pressure off.”
7: Hits in the first inning
The Royals matched their season high in hits Sunday with 18 -- also accomplished May 13 in Colorado -- and seven of those came in the first inning. That matches or bests their entire game total from 10 of their previous 11 games, the only exception being Friday, when they had 11.
The line kept moving in the first inning after Taylor’s leadoff home run, with six different players recording hits.
Eight of the Royals’ nine starters recorded a hit Sunday, the exception being Bobby Witt Jr. -- but he still drove in a run with his sacrifice fly in the eighth inning.
In Saturday’s loss, the Royals scored three runs in the first but then were held quiet. On Sunday, they didn’t want to be fooled again.
“We had an opportunity to do it yesterday, and we didn’t do it,” said Salvador Perez, who tied Witt for the team lead in homers with his 18th on Sunday. “It cost us the game yesterday. Today, we did it.”