Merrifield’s walk-off home run powers Royals past Orioles 5-4
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Whit Merrifield had never hit a game-ending home run — not in middle school, high school, college or as a pro — so he tried to admire his shot into the seats Saturday night.
The only problem? First base coach Mitch Maier wasn’t sure it was gone.
“I heard him yell, ‘Run! Run! Run!” Merrifield said, so he took off running.
His two-run shot with one out in the ninth inning was plenty deep, though, landing in the outfield seats and giving the Kansas City Royals a back-and-forth 5-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
“I’m going to have to get Mitch back for that,” Merrifield said with a smile.
The Orioles took the lead in the top of the ninth, when Trey Mancini homered to lead off and Tim Beckham added a two-run double for his fourth hit of the night. But when Mychael Givens (0-7) came on to close things out, he promptly walked Brett Phillips on four pitches to start the inning.
Cam Gallagher sacrificed Phillips to second, and Merrifield cracked a 0-2 pitch an estimated 415 feet to left field, giving the young Royals their sixth win in seven games this homestand.
It’s their best seven-game stretch since July 2017, and includes the first two games in this three-game series between the worst two teams in the major leagues.
“I think it gives us confidence,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “When your players have confidence, it gives us confidence too. You can see it in their faces that they continue to gain confidence.”
The Royals’ Jason Hammel squandered another solid start by Heath Fillmyer, though that’s hardly new. The 24-year-old Fillmyer allowed two runs on nine hits and a walk over seven innings, striking out six, yet was stuck with his sixth no-decision in his last eight starts.
Jake Newberry (1-0) wound up earning his first big league win in relief.
“Pretty cool,” he said, “to get it on a walk-off homer.”
The Orioles took an early lead on John Andreoli’s sacrifice fly and Beckham’s homer on a 3-1 pitch from Fillmyer. But the Royals answered in the bottom of the fourth when Phillips hit his second homer of the season — the 35th allowed by Dylan Bundy, tying an Orioles single-season record.
Kansas City pulled even in the sixth on Brian Goodwin’s base hit, then took the lead when Rosell Herrera shrugged off a 3-for-31 slump with an RBI single.
The game went back-and-forth one more time after that.
“It’s just closing. There’s pressure in different situations. There’s finality in that inning,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of their fateful ninth. “It’s a great job if you’re good at it.”
BUNDY IS BETTER
Bundy wound up allowing three runs on eight hits and a walk in 5 1/3 innings. He also struck out eight in his best performance in about three weeks. “Yeah, I thought so too,” he said. “Still got room to improve, obviously, but the breaking pitches were a little bit sharper.”
MINOR LEAGUE DEAL
The Royals announced a two-year extension with Idaho Falls to remain their rookie-level farm club in the Pioneer League. Eleven current members of the big league club played for the Chukars.
The Royals, who traded C Drew Butera to Colorado on Friday, recalled C Meibrys Viloria from Class-A Wilmington. C Salvador Perez has been dealing with a sprained thumb, and Cam Gallagher is the only other catcher on the 40-man roster. Viloria was hitting .260 with six homers at Wilmington.
Baltimore recalled INF Breyvic Valera from Triple-A Norfolk, and he’ll join the club in time for Sunday’s game. Valera appeared in one game with the Orioles last month, going 1 for 4, after arriving as part of the July 18 trade of Manny Machado to the Dodgers.
Orioles: OF/DH Mark Trumbo (right knee inflammation) will have arthroscopic surgery in Baltimore, manager Buck Showalter said. It is expected to take place Thursday or Friday.
Royals: LHP Eric Skoglund (sprained UCL) was due to make a rehab start with Triple-A Omaha on Saturday night. Skoglund (1-5, 6.70 ERA) has been out since late May.
RHP Jorge Lopez (0-3, 7.90 ERA), part of a late-July trade with Milwaukee, tries again for his first win for the Royals when he faces Orioles RHP David Hess (3-8, 5.08) in the series finale Sunday.