The Royals’ offensive explosion against the Rangers come from some unknown guys on the roster, including Tyler Tolbert
Diego Hernandez got shaken after an awkward dive and missed a low-line drive. He was slow to get up and the game would stop. Both the Royals training staff and skipper Matt Quatraro would come out to pull him from the game. Tyler Tolbert would come in to replace D. Hernandez and would record the final out. The official word was he injured his right shoulder.
After a good start, the Royals would give up three runs in the second inning. Part of the problem was the defense was not able to make plays. A ball was hit toward Hunter Dozier who could not handle the ball. It would have been a difficult play to make but it allowed runners to get on base.
One of the biggest concerns for the Royals going into the season is Dozier’s defense. The Royals have better defensive players that can play third base. Bobby Whitt Jr. played third at the start of last season. He needs to improve his overall play if he wants to play the entire season as the Royals’ main third basemen. He would redeem himself the following inning with a great grab on a high-chopping ground ball.
The top of the fourth inning was a big offensive moment for Kansas City. Dozier would start the inning off with a single. MJ Melendez hit a rocket of a ball that would bounce over the wall for a ground rule double. That would put runners on second and third. Matt Duffy would come to the plate to hit a solid single to the opposite field. Both Dozier and Melendez would score. Nicky Lopez and Dairon Blanco would both reach base on walks. Loading the bases with one out.
Nick Pratto came up to the plate to hit a little flare to shallow right center. That would bring in two runs giving Kansas City their first lead 4-3 of the day. The Royals would add to their lead after Tolbert smashed a ball to hit a three-run home run. That was all the damage done for the fourth inning. However, Kansas City did not waste time getting back in the score column when Dozier would start the fifth inning with a solo home run. The Royals added another run in the seventh inning off the bat of Nick Loftin on another solo home run. The final Royals run would come in the top of the ninth inning when Jakson Reetz hit a line drive that would be deflected by third baseman Jonathan Ornelas allowing Tucker Bradley to score.
The Rangers added two runs in the bottom of the ninth but the win was never in doubt.
Two pitchers stood out in the game, Scott Barlow and Carlos Hernandez
Barlow came into the third inning and displayed his new pitch. During the offseason, Barlow added a two-seam fastball to his pitch arsenal. The two-seamer moves in the opposite direction of his slider adding important diversity to his movement. His spring training debut would be a perfect inning getting two ground balls and one strikeout. Barlow was already a top closer in all of baseball. If he is able to effectively use that two-seamer going forward the Royals may end up with an elite closer.
Hernandez was throwing heat. He was throwing triple digits on his fastball and his breaking ball had a lot of movement on it. He pitched two innings, gave up one hit, and also got a strikeout.
Spring training continues tomorrow as the Royals will host the Seattle Mariners with a 2:05 first pitch.