KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Meibrys Viloria trotted into the dugout after the sixth inning Sunday, and Royals manager Ned Yost told his recently recalled rookie catcher to help get pitcher Jorge Lopez through one more inning.
So when Viloria headed to the bench after the seventh, that task successfully complete, he plopped down and began to relax. Puzzled, Yost looked at him and asked, “What are you doing?”
“You said,” Viloria replied, “get him through one more inning.”
Yost didn’t mean Viloria’s day was done, though. And when he went to bat in the eighth, Viloria came through with his first big league hit, a two-run double that put a nice cap on a game Lopez and the Royals dominated. The 9-1 rout of the Baltimore Orioles wrapped up a three-game sweep of the only team in the majors with a worse record than Kansas City’s own.
“It feels great,” said Lopez, who allowed Jonathan Villar’s home run in the first inning but little else while striking out a career-high eight. “The defense was good and the offense has been hot.”
As for Viloria, the kid behind the plate who had just arrived from Class-A Wilmington?
“That kid’s something special,” Lopez said. “Communication, the game plan, we were right on it.”
It was the first win for Lopez, who was part of the late-July deal with Milwaukee for third baseman Mike Moustakas, since Sept. 29, 2015, when he was still with the Brewers.
“That’s why he was so well-thought-of and sought-after in trade,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “The things David (Hess) has done when he’s successful, that young man did today.”
Alcides Escobar also had three hits and an RBI as Kansas City piled up 14 hits, its sixth straight game with at least 10 and the longest such streak since June 24-29, 2016.
Most of the damage came against Hess (3-9), who allowed five runs on nine hits and a trio of errors — all of which came after the Baltimore pitcher’s own mistakes during a dreadful third inning.
The first error came with nobody out, when Hess threw the ball away trying to pick Merrifield off first base. Then, with two down, Hess tried to chase Jorge Bonifacio back to second and the ball squirreled away again. Bonifacio headed for third and second baseman Breyvic Valera tried to throw him out there, but the ball bounced away for yet another error that allowed Bonifacio to score.
“The toughest thing is giving them extra bases and extra outs to work with,” Hess said. “That’s something that I’ve prided myself on throughout the minor leagues and up here as well. I’ve been able to field my position well and do what we need to do to keep guys honest out there.
“I mean, they beat me at that today,” he said. “It’s something that we’re going to learn from.”
STATS AND STREAKS
The Royals have won five straight, all in come-from-behind fashion, their best stretch since July 19-28, 2017. … Merrifield reached base for a career-best 22nd straight game. He also stole his 30th base, matching Seattle’s Dee Gordon for the AL lead. … The Orioles were swept for the third time in four series. … Baltimore has lost seven straight road games.
Royals vice president Mike Swanson threw out the ceremonial first pitch to honor his 40 years in baseball. Swanson’s mother, Betty, spent nearly four decades working for the Royals and Chiefs, while her son has worked for the Rockies, Padres and Diamondbacks along with his time in Kansas City.
Showalter said he will try several options in the closer role after Mychael Givens blew another save Saturday night. “You’ve got to get people out, and pitch when you’re asked and take advantage of the opportunity,” Showalter said, “including Mike and some other guys.”
Orioles: RHP Pedro Araujo (right elbow strain) will not pitch again this season. He’s been on the DL since June 11. “He’s going to be fine, I think, for next year,” Showalter said, “but I don’t think he’ll pitch in September. I don’t see any of the feedback that fits that scenario.”
Royals: OF Jorge Soler (fractured left toe) experienced a setback in his rehab and will likely shut down for the remainder of the season, Yost said. Soler went on the DL on June 16, when he was hitting .265 with nine homers and 28 RBIs.
The Orioles head to Seattle for three games beginning Monday night, when LHP Josh Rogers (1-0, 5.40 ERA) is on the mound. The Royals begin a trip to Cleveland and Minnesota with RHP Jakob Junis (7-12, 4.53) taking the hill against the Indians on Monday night.
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