Fillmyer wastes Royals’ early offensive outburst in loss to the White Sox

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Sports

August 20, 2018 - 10:21 AM

CHICAGO — Royals rookie Heath Fillmyer stood stock-still several paces behind the mound at Guaranteed Rate Field on Sunday, watching as White Sox catcher Omar Narvaez scored his team’s sixth run of the fourth inning on a homer.
Over in the third-base dugout, the White Sox celebrated their roaring comeback.
Fillmyer had caused this scene. He had squandered a six-run lead in a span of 31 pitches, failing to retire a soul as Chicago sent six batters to the plate and allowing a trio of homers. He would not shoulder the statistical burden of the Royals’ eventual 7-6 loss to the White Sox in the rubber match of a three-game series, but he would be the culprit.
“Balls started carrying into the middle of the zone, guys were hitting them and capitalizing,” Fillmyer said. “It hurt me.”
Fillmyer had flown through his first trip down the White Sox order. He retired eight consecutive hitters after allowing a single and a four-pitch walk with one out in the first inning. He was in command of his fastball, relying on it for called strikes and everything in between. He pounded the strike zone and attacked hitters. He did not appear like a rookie overwhelmed by circumstance.
But Fillmyer’s control slipped away in the fourth. Jose Abreu scooped a curveball out from below the strike zone for a single. Daniel Palka, after fouling off three different pitches in a 3-2 count, followed with his own single. Then Avisail Garcia turned a belt-high fastball thrown in on his hands into a three-run homer to cleave the Royals’ lead to 6-3.
Two batters later, after Nicky Delmonico singled, Tim Anderson lined a two-run homer to right field.
That brought up Narvaez, who later ripped an RBI single off Royals reliever Brian Flynn to put the White Sox ahead in the sixth inning, and Fillmyer’s subsequent exit.
“My mindset was OK, it’s 6-3, go ahead, calm down a little bit here and make some pitches and get us through the inning,” manager Ned Yost said. “They were all quick strikes from that point on. They didn’t mount an offensive attack. It was boom, home run. Boom, home run. By the time I could get somebody up (in the bullpen) the game was tied.”
Not counting a rain-shortened start in Minnesota, Fillmyer’s three-plus inning outing was his briefest since joining the Royals rotation on July 8. He hadn’t allowed more than five hits in any of his last five starts.
The Royals, who fell to 38-86, had jumped on a 6-0 lead in the second inning. White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez allowed six of the nine batters he faced in the inning to score, including on home runs to rookie Ryan O’Hearn and back-to-back homers to Whit Merrifield and Alex Gordon.
But after Lopez’s departure in the third inning, a White Sox relief corps of six held the Royals to three hits over the next seven innings. Catcher Salvador Perez struck out five times for the first time in his career.
“(White Sox reliever Hector) Santiago changed,” Yost said. “He threw the ball well, came in and shut us down from that point (in the third). … He did a nice job of what we couldn’t do in that fourth inning and what Lopez couldn’t do in the second inning — stop the bleeding.”

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