Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin throws to a Kansas City Royals batter during the first inning of a baseball game in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
Colin E. Braley
For the second time in two games, the Royals escaped ultimate baseball danger. They didn’t allow a run after the opponent loaded the bases with no outs.
But when the same situation was presented two innings later on Friday, at the same spot in the lineup, the Royals were doomed.
Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman made the Royals pay with RBI hits to kick-start the Los Angeles Dodgers to an 8-3 victory at Kauffman Stadium.
The outcome kept the Dodgers soaring with an 11th straight victory and baseball-best 78-33 record. The Royals, winners of six of eight on this homestand before Friday, fell to 47-67.
The Royals were pumped walking off the field in the fifth because of starting pitcher Daniel Lynch’s effort. He had just pulled off the Houdini act, getting a pop-up from Turner on a 3-0 count, a strikeout of Freeman and a deep fly-out from Will Smith after L.A. had loaded the bases.
“He felt the energy that was in this place and he wanted that,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said of Lynch. “It’s something I don’t think he’ll ever forget. It’s part of his personal growth as a pitcher, to be put in a spot like that against a lineup like that.”
Lynch let out a scream and pumped his fist as he was leaving the mound. The clutch performance kept the game scoreless.
“That’s a little out of character for me, but I was just in the moment,” Lynch said. “To be able to keep the team in the game there was a really good experience.”
A day earlier, Zack Greinke accomplished the same feat against the Chicago White Sox, and the Royals went on to the victory. Greinke has started 507 games in his 19-year career and has confronted every scenario. Friday marked Lynch’s 33rd start in his two years.
“He’s able to have such a low heartbeat in those situations and really know what to do, and I just try to do the same thing,” Lynch said of Greinke. “Just focus on one pitch at a time, making pitches and not giving up. A good thing to watch the game before.”
The experience will serve Lynch well, Matheny said.
“I believe guys put into their own reservoir and realize later on when they get into those spots, ‘Hey, I can do this because I’ve done it in a big situation,’” Matheny said.
But the Dodgers played the same bases-loaded hand in the seventh and didn’t miss against reliever Josh Staumont.
Turner singled through the left side to score two, and Freeman followed with a run-scoring double. Staumont’s night was over, but the Dodgers didn’t stop until they had pushed across five.
Trayce Thompson ended any doubt about the outcome with a three-run homer in the eighth.
Lynch kept the Dodgers off the board but had scuffled, walking four. Only 60 of his 105 pitches found the strike zone. He hadn’t issued a free pass in his previous two starts. The Royals were fortunate to be in a scoreless game, too, because Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin was cruising.
The National League All-Star starter didn’t allow a hit until Vinnie Pasquantino’s one-out single in the seventh. Michael A. Taylor’s RBI double prevented the shutout. Gonsolin, who improved to 14-1, set down the first 16 Royals until Kyle Isbel walked in the sixth. He called the effort “pretty solid.”
It was more than that to Matheny.
“Gonsolin had us off-balanced the whole game,” Matheny said. “The split was a devastating pitch. I’d venture to say there are quite a few of our younger players who haven’t seen a split like that, and he executed it. … He was one step ahead.”
The Royals’ Salvador Perez provided an eighth-inning cheer with his 17th home run of the season, a two-run shot that landed in the second row of seats in left center. The Royals, who entered the game averaging 6.9 runs during this homestand, finished with four hits.
This story was originally published August 12, 2022 10:34 PM.
Blair Kerkhoff has covered sports for The Kansas City Star since 1989.