Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost walks back to the dug out after a pitching change in the fifth inning against the New York Yankees on July 29, 2018 at Yankee Stadium in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Finishing a 5-4 road trip with a win on Sunday in Boston, the Tampa Bay Rays open a seven-game homestand against the Kansas City Royals on Monday night at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla..
As the Rays had done in Sunday's 2-0 victory over the Red Sox in Boston, they will start an "opener" Monday night. Ryne Stanek, who relieved in New York last Thursday and started at Fenway Park on Friday, will open the game on Monday. The Royals will counter with rookie Jorge Lopez.
The Royals are in for four games before the Red Sox return to finish the season series over the weekend.
The Rays, who swept a three-game series in Kansas City in May, improved to 5-11 against the Red Sox with Sunday's win. Jalen Beeks, the left-hander acquired from Boston in the Nathan Eovaldi deal, pitched four innings as part of the five-pitcher shutout and picked up the victory.
"He battled," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "There were a couple of jams where he made some big pitches. I think the biggest one was probably to J.D. Martinez, and getting a double-play ball [in the fourth inning]. That was huge for us. Kind of a momentum shift a little bit. There's not a ton of margin of error in the ballpark, against this team. We had to play a pretty perfect game, and he set that tone."
With the bullpen working 7 1/3 innings Sunday, the Tampa Bay bullpen went past the 600-inning mark as it marches toward smashing the major league record for innings pitched by a bullpen (657 by the 2012 Colorado Rockies).
The 7 1/3 scoreless innings marked the staff's longest shutout relief effort since May 27.
Sergio Romo worked a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts to notch his 100th career save and his 16th this season.
"It means a lot to me," he said "... I was that kid in the back yard telling my dad, 'Hey, I'm going to make it to the big leagues.' ... Here I am, that little kid getting to live those things out, trying to make daddy proud. I told you so, Dad."
Lopez, 0-2 with a 4.44 ERA after he was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers in the Mike Moustakas trade, will make his second start of the season for the Royals. Last week, he worked 4 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits, including a home run, and six earned runs against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Royals blew a 6-0 lead and lost 7-6 to the White Sox on Sunday in Chicago. They hit three home runs in a six-run second inning but then got hit with a six-spot -- including three homers -- to tie the score in the fourth.
Ryan O'Hearn, Whit Merrifield and Alex Gordon homered for the Royals. For Gordon, it was the 169th of his career, tying him with Hal McRae for fourth place on the franchise list.
"I liked the fact that Whit and Gordon were swinging the bat well," said Kansas City manager Ned Yost, whose team's offense has picked up in the last six games. "[Jorge Bonifacio] with three hits today. O'Hearn's a positive too."
O'Hearn, a rookie who debuted July 31, has four home runs in 42 plate appearances in the major leagues.
"I haven't sat back with him one time and said, 'That's not a very good at-bat,' not one time. I like his at-bats," Yost said. "The four homers are a plus. He's a guy that we saw in spring training that had pop, so I think he's doing just fine."
Left-hander Danny Duffy, on the 10-day disabled list with a left shoulder impingement, is scheduled to throw batting practice Monday and if there are no problems he will pitch the series finale Thursday -- the first day he's eligible to come off the list.