Kansas City pitching delivered nine innings of five-hit ball against San Diego on Friday night, leading the Royals to a 6-1 win over the Padres.
The win, which snapped a brief three-game skid, featured appearances from six KC pitchers, including an encouraging outing from right-hander Louis Coleman.
Coleman struck out five hitters in his two innings, his fourth scoreless outing of the spring, as he tries to crack the Opening Day 25-man roster. He now has 14 strikeouts — and no walks — in 8 2/3 innings, good for 14.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
With Luke Hochevar questionable for the start of the season, and with the Royals toying with the idea of carrying eight relievers, Coleman can cement his role in the bullpen with a solid second half of spring training.
• Young’s solid outing. Chris Young made the start against his former team on Friday, throwing 48 pitches and facing just one batter over the minimum in his three innings. He allowed a run in the second inning when he balked with a runner on third.
Other than the balk hiccup, Young was very solid, striking out two while giving up two hits and a walk. Two Padres were erased on the basepaths, with Young picking off Yonder Alonso in the second and catcher Erik Kratz gunning down Cameron Maybin at second to finish off the third.
Young is guaranteed a spot in the Royals’ bullpen to open the season, although the 10-year veteran will likely be used as a spot starter throughout the season this year. He will primarily be used as a middle- and long-relief pitcher early on.
• The right-center-field gap. Of Kansas City’s six runs, three came off doubles to the right-center-field gap. Kendrys Morales ripped a double in the fourth inning that scored Eric Hosmer from first base, tying the game at one. An inning later, Hosmer bounced one off the base of the wall to score Ryan Roberts and Lorenzo Cain, giving the Royals a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Hosmer and Morales, an offseason free-agent signing, have been hot this spring, combining for 14 RBIs. The pair should anchor the heart of the Royals’ lineup, with Hosmer hitting cleanup and Morales slotting into the No. 5 hole.
• Tommy John comebacks. Luke Hochevar and Ryan Madson both threw scoreless innings Friday night as each tries to return from Tommy John surgery.
Hochevar allowed a two-out single in the fifth inning but struck out two in his lone frame. He is expected to contribute more to the Royals’ bullpen this season even if he doesn’t begin the year on the 25-man roster. He had the reconstructive elbow surgery just 12 months ago.
The road back has been longer for Madson, who had Tommy John surgery in 2012 and missed the following two seasons due, in part, to the procedure. He sat down the Padres in order in the sixth and has allowed just one run over five innings this spring.
• Seeing Shields as a Padre. Royals fans got their first look at James Shields in a Padres uniform. He didn’t play in the game but was interviewed from the dugout during the telecast. Shields said the experience he gained during last season’s run to the World Series would help him with the Padres.
"We had some good times over there, man, but I’m definitely looking forward to some good times on this side now," he said.
• The bottom of the order. Not much went wrong for the Royals against San Diego, but the bottom third of their lineup did go a combined 2 for 10 with two strikeouts. The good news is that none of the six players who hit seventh, eighth and ninth on Friday will be starters, and only three of them are locks to make the roster
Christian Colon, Kratz and Jarrod Dyson — who all should earn bench roles — went 0 for 5 with a run scored.
• Balk, balk, balk. The only Padres run came by way of Young’s self-inflicted wound in the second.
Justin Upton led off the inning with a double, then advanced to third on a groundout two batters later. Facing a 2-2 count on Alonso, Young came set with both hands and started his windup before stopping and stepping off the rubber. Home-plate umpire Ryan Goodman called a balk, which drove in Upton for the game’s first run.
Alex Gordon is expected to make his return to the lineup Saturday against the White Sox. Gordon has been sidelined after having right wrist surgery in the offseason, but has told reporters he will be ready for Opening Day.
Royals right-hander Joe Blanton will take on Chicago’s Brad Penny. Franklin Morales along with lefties Brandon Finnegan and Brian Flynn are also expected to pitch.