July 16, 2024

Witt shines at home, Royals rout Rangers 10-1 to avoid sweep

Kansas City Royals' Bobby Witt Jr. dives into third on a steal during the seventh inning of the team's baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday, April 12, 2023. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

By SCHUYLER DIXON AP Sports Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Bobby Witt Jr. tripled in front of the hometown crowd, then really turned on the speed with two stolen bases to start a four-run inning for Kansas City.
The son of former Texas pitcher Bobby Witt helped the Royals to season highs in runs and hits as they avoided a three-game sweep with a 10-1 rout of the Rangers on Wednesday night.
The RBI triple was among three hits for the younger Witt, and his three steals overall were a career high as the Royals ended a three-game losing streak.
“There’s going to be some times this year when he’s going to beat out some routine ground balls,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “I haven’t looked at the time, but those plays are a lot closer than they should be when he hits a ground ball. He’s going to score some runs single-handedly for us.”
MJ Melendez drove in three runs to back another strong outing from Brad Keller, Vinnie Pasquantino homered and the Royals had three consecutive run-scoring singles — the last of their 14 hits — in the four-run seventh after coming in with .190 team batting average while scoring 2.8 runs per game.
The Rangers had their second three-game winning streak of the season stopped on the day they announced star shortstop Corey Seager would miss at least four weeks with a hamstring strain.
“They’re not fun days,” Texas manager Bruce Bochy said. “You’re going to have them during a season. I always say, these games are games you flush out, put behind you.”
Witt led off the seventh with a single and stole second and third before Franmil Reyes’ RBI single. Edward Olivares drove in another, and Michael Massey brought home two off reliever Taylor Hearn.
Keller (2-1) didn’t allow a run after giving up Nathaniel Lowe’s first-inning homer, leaving after his two-out walk in the seventh ended a streak of 10 consecutive batters retired.
The right-hander, who gave up three hits and struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings, has half of Kansas City’s four victories without allowing more than two runs in any of his three starts.
It was Keller’s 18th consecutive start with a decision, the longest streak in the majors in three years and longest for the Royals since Tim Belcher’s 21-start streak in 1996-97.
“The breaking ball was outstanding,” Quatraro said. “You can tell, even when he was pulling the fastball a little bit, he’d get back in the count with the breaking ball and got bad swings.”
Melendez lined a tiebreaking two-run double into the gap in right-center for a 3-1 lead in the second and an RBI single in the fourth before scoring on Witt’s triple into the right field corner.
Nathan Eovaldi (1-2), one of three free agent additions to the Texas rotation, allowed 10 hits and six runs with seven strikeouts and a pitch clock violation over five innings in a second consecutive loss.
Josh Smith started in place of Seager, who was injured running the bases a night earlier, and went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts from the second spot in the order normally occupied by the three-time All-Star.
CLUTCH HITS
Kansas City built a 6-1 lead with a big boost from four run-scoring hits with two out. The clutch hits came a night after an 8-5 extra-inning loss in which the Royals went 4 for 20 with runners in scoring position, their most such at-bats in six years.
“It was just a matter of time for when it was going to break open for sure,” Witt said. “They were great at-bats, just not getting the results. So then, now you get results with those at-bats and this is the outcome.”
UP NEXT
Both teams are off Thursday going into three-game weekend series. Kansas City RHP Brady Singer (1-0, 4.91 ERA) is scheduled to face Atlanta at home. Texas LHP Martín Pérez (1-1, 2.53) is set for the first meeting of the season with Houston.