KANSAS CITY - Anthony Santander rocked back on his left foot, pausing to admire his work.
When you hit a ball 455 feet into the fountains at Kauffman Stadium, you’re allowed a little time to bask.
Santander’s solo splashdown in the first inning of Sunday’s game was the first of three home runs for the Orioles and set the tone for the team’s marathon 10-7 win over the Royals (20-39).
The Orioles (26-35) hit 850 more feet worth of homers in the second, getting back-to-back shots from Ryan Mountcastle and Rougned Odor to open the inning and push the lead to 3-0. But the barrage didn’t end there, as the O’s scored two more in the inning on RBI singles from Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays off Kansas City starter Brad Keller.
“We swung the bat good all day," said manager Brandon Hyde after the win. "We had 15 hits, had really good at-bats, started early, which is great to see. We haven’t done that a ton.”
Keller’s final line tells a gruesome tale: 1 2/3 innings, seven hits, five earned runs, four strikeouts and a walk. Dean Kremer’s, by contrast, reads like Tolstoy: five-plus innings, four hits, two runs (one earned), two strikeouts and two walks.
Kremer (1-1) relied heavily on his four-seam fastball to produce weak contact; Royals hitters barreled up exactly zero of Kremer’s 80 pitches, according to Statcast.
“Really impressed with Dean,” said Hyde. “Only two walks, only two strikeouts but a ton of strikes. After probably the second or third inning, started to work ahead in the count. But again, mid-90s fastball, had a good changeup today, I thought. Thought he used the cutter at appropriate times, it had some nice bite to it. Had trouble with the curveball early, but I thought he really competed well on a hot, humid day.”
His only run scored on a throwing error by shortstop Richie Martin, who had an otherwise impressive day, with three hits, including two triples, and several nice defensive plays.
“I knew it was going to be a double, I (went) hard out the box," said Martin of his first triple, a line drive into the left-field corner in the sixth. "I saw a little space between the ball and the wall and (left fielder Andrew) Benintendi, I just took the chance.”
“Richie had a great day at the plate," said Hyde. "You saw the speed on the bases, got some big hits, really aggressive."
The mess left by Keller forced Royals manager Mike Matheny to call on six relievers to pick up the remaining 7 1/3 innings. But the O’s lineup was equally successful against Kansas City’s bullpen.
The Orioles tacked on single runs in the fourth and sixth innings, both on balls hit to shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. The former was a forceout at second base by Hays, the latter an infield single by Santander. That made it 7-3 Orioles.
More damage was done in the seventh, when Martin’s second triple of the day brought home two before Mullins scored him on a single. The square, crown-topped scoreboard at The K read 10-3.
Adley Rutschman, behind the plate today after serving as the designated hitter yesterday, was unable to build on the momentum created by his first career three-hit day. Rutschman went 0-4 with a walk and three strikeouts.
The Orioles bullpen was less than stellar in relief of Kremer. Keegan Akin, who entered the game immediately following Kremer, served up a two-run homer to Hunter Dozier in the sixth and solo shots to Michael A. Taylor and Witt in the seventh.
"Just looking at the pitches, they were just elevated," said Hyde of Akin's performance. "Keegan’s going to fill the strike zone up, he’s going to be aggressive. Hitters know that, so he’s just gotta make a little bit better quality pitches. That was unlike him.”
After Akin was pulled with one out in the eighth, Bryan Baker faced three batters but failed to record an out, relying on Félix Bautista to squeeze out of a jam. With Jorge López having pitched in back-to-back games, Cionel Pérez closed the door in the ninth to earn his first career save.
“That didn’t map the way I was expecting, honestly,” Hyde said of his bullpen. “We misplayed two double play balls, and when you do that in the big leagues, it’s gonna come back to bite you, and it did today.
“That’s something we've done a fairly good job of this year is taking care of the baseball in big spots, and we gotta get back to it because we did let them back in the game and it made that game way closer than it should’ve been.”
Next up on the road trip is a four-game series against the Blue Jays, who sit in second place in the American League East after taking two of three from the Tigers.
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