Manager Ned Yost had made up his mind.
The Royals were leading by two runs in an eventual 9 0 win at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday night. Heath Fillmyer, one of the Royals’ three rookie starting pitchers, was on the mound to start the seventh inning against the pennant chasing Chicago Cubs. It was his game to lose.
Yet Yost’s resolve wavered. Fillmyer had allowed back to back hits to David Bote and Tommy La Stella with one out in the inning. He struck out Willson Contreras on three pitches for the second out, but on deck loomed Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber.
The gears in Yost’s mind spun again. Schwarber’s left handed bat presented danger. If he was thrown just one bad pitch, he’d knock it out over the stadium fences for a 3 2 lead and send the Cubs fans that infiltrated Kansas City all week into an uproar.
Yost turned to pitching coach Cal Eldred in the home dugout and asked his opinion. Eldred encouraged him to back down from his gut instinct and ease Fillmyer out of trouble. Left handed specialist Tim Hill was already warming up in the bullpen; he entered the game tied for seventh among American League relievers with 23 inherited runners stranded. The Royals needed this victory to end a six game losing streak.
So Yost called a mound visit, certain Fillmyer’s time was up.
But halfway to the first base line, he changed his mind.
I just thought to myself http://www.royalsfanaticsjersey.com/salvador-perez-jersey-c-15.html, ‘You know what? Your initial instinct was right. Let him get through it. Let him win it. Let him lose it,’” Yost said later, sitting on the dais in the stadium’s first level interview room.
Fillmyer rose to the occasion. He slung an 80 mph curveball low and down the middle of the plate that Schwarber didn’t even move his bat for. On the next pitch, Schwarber got his bat under a fastball and lofted it over the infield. Shortstop Adalberto Mondesi trapped the ball for the final out of the inning http://www.royalsfanaticsjersey.com/drew-butera-jersey-c-14.html, Fillmyer returned to the dugout and closer Wily Peralta 40 minutes later handed Fillmyer a baseball as a memento of his first career win.
“It’s always great to get confidence from your manager and to be able to have your manager have confidence in you to stay out there,” said Fillmyer Chris Young Jersey, who held the Cubs to three hits and two walks in seven innings. “He let me do that last time. Unfortunately I ended up dropping him. This time it was actually a positive to get that last out. It felt good.”
Fillmyer had never made it this deep in a major league game. It was just fifth career start since joining the rotation on July 8. He’d only gone as far as 6 2/3 innings during a two run, three hit performance against the Tigers that was spoiled by the bullpen on July 23. In that same game, Yost allowed Fillmyer to stay on the mound to face left hander Jim Adduci. He got him to loft a fly ball to the left field line but Adduci was awarded a base hit on a misplay. Fillmyer was given the hook.
So Yost wanted to push the 24 year old again, test his mettle against a team that ranked first in the National League in batting .266 and runs scored 565 . He wanted to see the Royals’ experimentation with the rotation produce a positive outcome.
These are the battles waged during a rebuilding season, one that has the Royals on pace to lose 112 games for the first time in franchise history. These are the ones worth fighting.
On Wednesday night http://www.royalsfanaticsjersey.com/christian-colon-jersey-c-16.html, the Royals won.
“I could see a little glimmer in his eye that he had a chance,” Yost said. “I said, ‘I don’t wanna take you out here. This is your first big league win. I want you to win it. I don’t want to bring somebody in here to bail you out. I want you to bail yourself out.’ He was all fired up with that. I said, ‘Go get him.’”