OAKLAND – On a night when the Royals needed a deep, quality start, Mike Minor delivered.
The left-handed veteran stunned in seven innings against the A’s Thursday night, conceding just one run and scoring eight in Kansas City’s 6-1 win at the Oakland Coliseum, breaking a five-game losing streak and opening the four-game set with a win.
“Let’s talk about having a cap,” said manager Mike Matheny. “Having one of those appetizers that comes in and gives us a solid exit. And that was the best we could ask for. “
The Royals overturned the script of what happened earlier this week when they were overwhelmed by the Angels. Their starter went deep, saving the bullpen – which covered 14 innings in three games in Anaheim – and their bout broke out for six points after scoring five totals in their losing trio in Southern California.
After conceding three home runs in a back-and-forth match against the Twins last week, Minor got it all working Thursday night and limited the damage to just one homer: Jed Lowrie’s solo shot in the fourth on an inside curveball. Aside from that, Minor kept A’s balance with his fastball (12 puffs and nine strikes called), which he set high in the zone early on. He then worked on his gearshift, corner and slider, which kept A’s offense guessing for much of the night.
“They are a good team to hit, and they hammer balls,” said Minor. “So that’s what we saw and we tried to expose it. I felt like the swings they were taking were delayed or were looking for other things. “
The last time Minor pitched at least seven innings with eight strikeouts was on September 14, 2020 – as a member of the A’s. It was shortly after he was traded with Oakland last season at the Trade Deadline, so he knew his opponent well when he took the mount on Thursday.
“You respect all the guys, but it’s competition,” said Minor. “They have something over there where you feel welcomed right away. You feel part of the team. I was only there for a month or whatever it was, but I felt I got to know those guys pretty fast, and they accept everyone no matter what your personality or who you are. So it’s pretty special over there, a pretty special bunch. It was more just a question of respect.
“I was excited for the match. I was happy with everything, the environment and being here and meeting the guys, but it’s competition ”.
Minor kept the A’s at bay as the Royals fought their way into a battle with owner Frankie Montas. After the right shooter retired 13 in a row, the Royals were able to get on the board with some lucky jumps and hard-hitting balls in the seventh.
Andrew Benintendi scored to lead out of frame, and after the sixth time Jorge Soler has reached base on catcher interference this season, Hunter Dozier doubled up on a 101 mph grounder past third base and Kelvin Gutierrez singled to give the Royals their first 46 innings lead since Saturday against Minnesota).
Once the Royals took the lead with a situational serve – another hard to find aspect in Anaheim when they left 22 on base – they tacked one inning later.
Benintendi crushed his seventh homer of the year, winning a left-to-left battle with Jesús Luzardo, before Soler demolished a substitution two batters later for his 100th career homer.
“The thing I like about that swing, and I hope Jorge watches it 1,000 times – he didn’t try to do too much,” said Matheny. “It wasn’t too aggressive a swing. It was just trusting his hands, trusting his swing path and trusting his strength. And that’s what I hope to see often. “
The Royals record was a roller coaster this year. They popped up with a 16-9 start during the first month of the season. Then they lost 11 games in a row before reversing the situation with a 13-6 stretch, and entered this Oakland series after falling five in a row.
What would help curb the streak is the consistency of their starters, particularly a veteran like Minor, who was signed to eat innings for the Royals this year. The consistency of the attack, especially a slugger like Soler, who is hitting just 179 with six homers in the middle of the formation, would go a long way.
“I imagine there would have been more emphasis on ending the losing streak and getting back on track,” Minor said. “We are playing a good team, so I was focused out there. I knew the guys, I knew their tendencies and tried to mix them up and throw myself around them. “