Written by Chris Slade
Today's game kicked off at 1:35 ET with James Shields (2-2, 1.91 ERA) and Miguel Gonzalez (1-1, 5.40 ERA) on the mound. The Royals grabbed an early lead in the 1st with an RBI groundout by Omar Infante. Infante was at it again in the 2nd with a sac fly and again in the 5th when he drove in two more with a double to give the Royals a 4-0 lead.
The Orioles cut the lead in half in the 6th when Nelson Cruz hit a two-run bomb to left-center. But, once again, Infante came through for the Royals with a two run home run off Evan Meek in the 7th. Alex Gordon then hit a two-run double to extend the KC lead to 8-2 which is more than enough of a lead with a pitcher like Shields on the mound. The Royals tacked on another run in the 9th and the O's were able to score a run off Greg Holland leading to a 9-3 final score.
James Shields has a pretty strong track record against the Orioles dating back to his days with the Rays and was on his game today through the first five innings.
With Shields on his game, Miguel Gonzalez had little margin for error on the mound and while Gonzo did accomplish a small feat in keeping the ball in the ballpark, the Royals were still able to get four runs off of him. Three of the runs were earned due to a fielding error in the 1st inning by Adam Jones. Overall, Gonzalez was his usual effective self and commanded his three pitches for strikes, but the clutch two-run double by Omar Infante in the 5th would prove to be Gonzo's undoing.
Final Line: 6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, BB, 4 K, Loss
The bullpen performed dreadfully today as Evan Meek, Josh Stinson, and Ryan Webb combined to allow 5 earned runs on 7 hits and 3 walks over the final three innings of the game.
Meek was the main culprit of themeltdown as he was responsible for all four runs the Royals scored in the 7th. He only recorded two outs while allowing five hits, including the two-run bomb by Infante.
As expected, the Oriole bats had a difficult time getting much offense going versus Shields today. The team only collected three hits off Shields, two of which came in the 6th inning.
In the 6th inning, Jemile Weeks singled on a groundball to shortstop that Alcides Escobar misplayed but likely wouldn't have been able to get Weeks out without a pefrect throw.
Nelson Cruz then stepped in and launched the rare mistake fastball middle-in of the strike zone by Shields over the left-center fence into the bullpen area.
The Orioles finished with just five team hits and combined to strike out 10 times against the Royals pitching staff.
Defensive Highlights/ Lowlights
Adam Jones made a crucial error in the 1st inning when he ran down a fly ball off the bat of Norichika Aoki only for it to bobble out of his glove, allowing Aoki to reach third and score on a groundout.
David Lough made a sensational diving catch in the 8th innning, a play that may appear later tonight on Sportscenter Top 10.
Other Notes/ Musings
Nick Markakis recorded the 1,400th hit of his career in the 9th inning with a single.
Nelson Cruz has now driven in 25 runs in just 23 games and has absolutely had huge impact on this lineup thus far, despite what the "WAR-heads" had to say about him in the offseason.
The Orioles have off tomorrow and then host the Pirates on Tuesday at 7:05 ET. Chris Tillman and Charlie Morton are the probable starters.
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