2021 season review: the best Royals games
The Royals may not have won as many games as they would have liked, but they still gave us 74 chances to say “#HEYHEYHEYHEY” after a win. Let’s take a look at the best games the Royals had to offer in 2021.
The Royals got off to a pretty good start in April, but it looked like reigning AHL champion Rays would bring the Royals back to reality, winning the first two games of a series in Kansas City. When they jumped over starter Jakob Junis for four points in the first, it looked like a sweep might be in order.
But the Royals slowly reduced their lead, securing home runs from Hunter Dozier (his first of the year!) And Jorge Soler to make it 4-3. But it looked like it wouldn’t be Royals night as Carlos Santana tore up a pitch in the sidelines only to get it pierced by Brett Phillips. Salvador Perez thought he hit a home run, only for it to hit the top of the fence, which resulted in him being easily hit on the bases. Jorge Soler also missed a home run by a few inches and was left as a stranded runner. The Royals would take a 7-6 lead in the seventh on a two-run triple from Hanser Alberto and a two-run homer from Carlos Santana. But Scott Barlow took the lead in the eighth and gave the Rays the lead in the ninth.
The Royals used a small ball to tie the game against Diego Castillo. Michael Taylor had a single and pinch runner Jarrod Dyson slipped the second. Alberto sacrificed him in third place and Nicky Lopez performed a perfect sacrifice to tie the game.
It gave Salvador Perez a chance to do what he has done so many times for the Royals – win the game on a hit. Familiarly, he hit a player on the ground in front of the third baseman for a winning hit.
Game recap: Royals come back with a bang at Rays 9-8
By the end of May, a losing slump had pulled the air out of the Royals’ sails, but they were still around .500 with a chance to save their season. A victory on Sunday afternoon on Salute to the Negro Leagues Day against the Tigers could move the series forward and possibly get them back on track.
Kris Bubic gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead early on, while Tigers pitcher Casey Mize mowed down Royals hitters. The Royals didn’t get their first hit until the fourth inning, an infield hit, and they didn’t hit their next hit until the seventh. Mike Matheny was sent off in the sixth inning after pleading a foul on a field that appeared to touch Whit Merrifield in the fingers.
The Royals had a point in the eighth, but Kelvin Gutierrez lost one more chance when he was sent off in a costly baserunning blunder. But the offense woke up just at the right time. Whit Merrifield started late in the ninth with a single from Michael Fulmer, and Carlos Santana won with a bat.
Game recap: Santana’s home run leads Royals to series victory
The Reds took a 5-0 lead over Kris Bubic, and they responded to a Michael Taylor home run by scoring a run in the seventh to take a 6-1 lead late in the inning. Hanser Alberto started the eighth with a strikeout, but reached base on a passed ball. The next two forwards were called out, which should have ended the set if Alberto had been called out, but Andrew Benintendi paid him off with a two-run homer to make it 6-3 for the Reds.
Veteran reliever Brad Brach, who was released by the Royals in the spring only to catch up with the Reds, accompanied Ryan O’Hearn to lead the ninth, then tackled Hunter Dozier. Eugenio Suarez failed to handle a hot shot from Michael Taylor for a pointing error.
Nicky Lopez dropped a single to Heath Hembree’s left to score two runs to tie the game. Lopez reached third place after a stray pitch from Reds outfielder Aristides Aquino. That’s all Salvador Perez needed. He pierced one on the warning track for a hit on a wild comeback for a 7-6 win.
With 2 strikeouts at the end of the 9th and already with a return of 3 points in the set tied, Salvador Perez arrives with a HUGE WALK OFF Line on the head of Aristides Aquino to win the game for the Royals 7-6 in a return crazy about the Reds pic.twitter.com/Ri7BFGaGmm
– MLB Walk Offs and Winning Games (@MLBWalk_Offs) July 7, 2021
Match recap: Salvador Perez ends wild comeback with 7-6 win over Reds
Royals fans had been awaiting the arrival of the 2018 Draft’s pitching hopes, but Daniel Lynch’s first three starts were nothing to write home about. He was demoted after allowing 15 runs in four innings in May and worked hard at minors to restore the arsenal that has been recognized as one of baseball’s top prospects.
Lynch returned to the big leagues at the end of July and made it clear he didn’t want to leave. It only took him seven shots to strike out three batters in the first. Salvador Perez put the Royals on the board in the first with a three-point shot from Tarik Skubal, and Jorge Soler followed with a home run. Soler would make a homer again in the third to bring the score to 5-0 Royals.
Meanwhile, Lynch was sailing. After getting around some trouble in the second, he retired ten times in a row. He was hitting shots and didn’t walk a batter all afternoon, leaving him with low pitch counts. This allowed him to work eight white innings with five strikeouts and just five hits allowed. The Tigers managed a run in ninth reliever Ervin Santana, but Lynch made history after the game with his impressive performance in the 6-1 victory.
Game Recap: Daniel Freaking Lynch Returns To Complete Tigers Sweep
A disappointing May and June vaporized any idea of contention, but after a reset during the All-Star break, the Royals returned to playing inspired ball again. They earned seven out of ten wins after the break before a July 28 game against the White Sox, who took first place.
Once again, we have a Kris Bubic debut! But he pitched well in this one, pitching four white innings to start the game, and leaving after six innings and only two runs allowed. The Royals didn’t get their first point on Lucas Giolito until the seventh, when Salvador Perez and Jorge Soler drove back-to-back doubles with Soler’s strike coming close to being a home run.
Liam Hendriks is one of the best closers in the game, but Salvador Perez has been one of the best home hitters this season, and something had to give. Salvy dropped a fastball high into the fountains on a majestic homerun to tie the game.
This set up the tenth, where it looked like contact play would doom the Royals. Hanser Alberto pushed automatic racer Andrew Benintendi to third place. But Benny went home to Hunter Dozier land and was out. Michael Taylor recovered Dozier with a winning hit for the 3-2 victory.
Game recap: Royals leave Sox in 10th
Okay, so that weren’t exactly the Chicago Cubs we were used to, but the Royals haven’t had a hit in 30 years, so we’re going to start off very close to a no-no. The Cubs were just coming off their July Fire Sale and had a range of non-names that were swept away by the Royals in an August streak at Wrigley. Kris Bubic was just fantastic, mixing a curve with his extra shift and fastball to keep the Cubs hitters off balance all afternoon.
The Royals immediately jumped on rookie starter Keegan Thompson with a single from Whit Merrifield and a double from Chicago native Nicky Lopez. A wild throw saw Whit one take the lead to 1-0 for the Royals. Nicky went 2-0 with an RBI single in the second.
Meanwhile, Bubic was mowing down hitters, striking out 18 of the first 19 hitters he faced. At one point, he struck out seven of eight batters in a row and finished with a career-high nine strikeouts.
Then came a late rain without rain. Radars showed a storm was heading towards the area and the referees asked the ground team to cover the pitch preemptively in the seventh inning. The storm would miss Wrigleyville and a tiny amount of precipitation would eventually fall. But the 30-minute delay may have been costly for Bubic’s chances of finishing the hitless. Maybe he would have given up on a move anyway, but we’ll never know. Bubic would run Frank Schwindel to lead the seventh before giving up his first hit, a home run to Patrick Wisdom. Mike Matheny would lift him after that, but Bubic can hold his head up for pitching six superlative innings that day.
Match Recap: Bubic owns Chicago, KC wins 4-2
Did I miss any? What was your favorite game of the year?
What was the best Royals game of the year?
4/21 – Salvy walk-off against Rays
23/05 – Santana leaves HR against the Tigers
7/6 – Salvy out against the Reds
7/25 – Daniel Lynch 8 white innings against the Tigers
7/28 – Salvy HR is tied to set up a win against the White Sox
8/21 – Bubic close to no-no against Cubs
43 votes in total