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Apr 24, 2024 8:32 am

Royals counting on pitching staff to stifle Blue Jays

Alec Marsh

The Kansas City Royals will look for continuing bullpen success when they face the visiting Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday evening.

As starters piled up eight quality starts through the first nine games, Royals relievers saw relatively little work, pitching the fewest innings in baseball through the first two weeks of the season.

When they’ve been called upon, the bullpen has come through, posting a 3.27 ERA — the ninth lowest in the majors — while collecting five wins and seven saves. On Tuesday, it was crucial to shut down the Blue Jays’ high-powered offense.

“It was a one-run game, so there was no margin for error,” Kansas City manager Matt Quatraro said. “They put up 4 2/3 scoreless against a pretty good team, so we can’t overstate that enough.”

The bullpen faced just one batter over the minimum, and James McArthur finished with a two-inning save in the Royals’ 3-2 victory in the second game of a four-game series against Toronto.

“The bullpen picked me up big,” starter Michael Wacha said. “(They) threw a lot of innings tonight and didn’t let (Toronto) breathe.”

McArthur has five saves and a win in his past seven outings while throwing 8 2/3 scoreless frames, striking out nine.

“He’s got great stuff and he’s attacking in the zone,” said Chris Stratton, who recorded five outs to get the win. “When you do that, great things happen. We’ve got a lot of faith in him.”

Bobby Witt Jr. has just four extra-base hits in his past 11 games but still ranks second in the majors with 15, behind Shohei Ohtani’s 18.

Right-hander Alec Marsh (3-0, 3.22 ERA) will take the mound Wednesday for Kansas City against rookie right-hander Yariel Rodriguez (0-0, 2.35)

Marsh will make his first start against Toronto. He made one relief appearance against the Blue Jays last year, going four innings and allowing a run on three hits.

Marsh won his most recent start, Friday against Baltimore, throwing 5 2/3 scoreless frames with six strikeouts.

Rodriguez will make his third career start and has never faced the Royals. He allowed one run in each of his first two starts while pitching a total of 7 2/3 innings and collecting 13 strikeouts.

Solid starting pitching has been key to the Blue Jays’ taking four straight series. Toronto starters have allowed two earned runs or less in 13 of 14 games since April 8, and Tuesday’s loss was the Blue Jays’ first when holding opponents to three runs or less after winning their first 12 such games.

Although he took the loss Tuesday, Kevin Gausman allowed no earned runs over 6 2/3 innings.

“He saved our pen,” Jays manager John Schneider said. “I thought he kind of got better as the night went and stuff kind of ticked up a bit as he went. He had some soft contact off the split, which I think allowed him to get as deep as he did.”

Toronto center fielder Kevin Kiermaier left Tuesday’s game after feeling discomfort in his left hip while running during a sixth-inning at-bat.

“When he was sprinting, he kind of felt it a little bit,” Schneider said. “With KK you want to be careful with him, too.”

Daulton Varsho took over in center field, and Cavan Biggio entered the game in the batting order.

–Field Level Media

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