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KC Royals’ bats produce enough for starter Seth Lugo in 5-3 victory over A’s

Kansas City Royals starter Seth Lugo continues to showcase why the organization invested so heavily in him this offseason.

On Saturday, Lugo produced another stellar start, this one against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium. He allowed two runs and struck out 10 batters in 5 2/3 innings.

While he wasn’t as dominant as he had been in his previous start, Lugo did what most frontline pitchers do almost every outing: Give their team a chance to win.

“You never know how the game is going to evolve, right,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “But, you feel really good that he is going to keep you in it.”

The Royals earned a 5-3 victory over the Athletics. KC earned its 28th win and clinched the series in the process.

Lugo threw 66 of his 96 pitches for strikes. Despite allowing six hits, Lugo located across the strike zone and registered 16 whiffs on the night.

He got early strikes with his slurve, sweeper and slider. The pitches kept the Athletics off balance. The slurve garnered 11 swings, per Baseball Savant.

“I feel like I made a lot of good pitches, you know, and made a few mistakes,” Lugo said. “I was a little frustrated as a starter and disappointed not getting through six (innings). I feel like that’s my job. I’m happy with the win and happy that the bullpen pitched as well as they did.”

The Royals added just enough offense. Royals outfielder Kyle Isbel hit a solo home run, while team captain Salvador Perez added a two-run single.

Both teams traded runs early in the game. The Royals scored two quick runs in the first inning, and the Athletics matched in the second frame. Athletics outfielder Seth Brown hit a two-run homer off Lugo to even the score.

Things remained tied until the fifth inning. KC scored a key run off Athletics pitcher Ross Stripling, who allowed four runs in his start.

“He has a good mix and mixes things up a lot,” Isbel said of Stripling. (The game plan) was to just get him up in the zone, something you can handle, and just carry it. I thought the at-bats went very well tonight.”

The Royals bullpen shut the door late. Royals closer James McArthur picked up his 11th save, and KC will go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon.

“I think that’s where we are starting to get to as a team, it’s not we are running a streak,” Royals second baseman Michael Massey said. “We are playing the way we are supposed to play and we are just a good team.”

Missed previous games of the series?

Game 1: Royals ride pair of homers to 6-3 victory over Athletics

Special Reunion: The 2014 Royals honored for American League Championship season

Here are more notables from Saturday’s game:

Vinnie Pasquantino snaps hitting slump

The Royals added another run against Stripling in the sixth inning. This time, Royals first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino provided the clutch at-bat.

Pasquantino, who had been mired in a 0-for-14 stretch, laced an RBI single into right field as the Royals took a 3-2 lead.

“I felt good,” Pasquantino said. “I was just happy to help the team out. I’m not swinging it as well as I would like to be, but moments like that to be able to put us ahead, that’s why we do this.”

The line drive registered a 104-mph exit velocity. Royals third baseman Maikel Garcia, who added a one-out double earlier, scored on the play.

Pasquantino picked up his 26th RBI this season. It also helped Lugo secure his seventh victory of the 2024 campaign.

Wade Davis reflects on 2024 Royals

There are a lot of parallels between this year’s Royals and the 2014 squad a decade ago. Both teams relied on pitching and defense.

And both teams had Royals captain Salvador Perez.

On Saturday, former Royals closer Wade Davis was honored with his own bobblehead at Kauffman Stadium. He discussed the reunion with his former teammates and his thoughts on the current Royals team.

“It looks like it, yeah,” Davis said. “The pitching has been great. Me and my son, we watch a lot of games. So guys are pitching and not just throwing, which is sustainable. Whenever you got pitch-makers who can make good pitches in big situations, that’s going to help you win those close games.”

What’s next on the KC Royals’ schedule?

The Royals finish their three-game series against the Athletics. On Sunday, Royals right-hander Brady Singer is set to start in the afternoon game.

Singer (3-2) owns a 2.84 ERA this season. In his last start, Singer allowed four earned runs in five innings against the Seattle Mariners.

The Athletics will start left-handed pitcher JP Sears. He is 3-2 overall with a 3.96 ERA this season.