Mike Matheny said all week that he would manage every game of this 60-game sprint like it was the most important game ever.
And Royals fans got a glimpse of that in Matheny’s first game as Kansas City’s skipper Friday night in Cleveland, a 2-0 victory for the Tribe.
In a scoreless game with one out in the fifth inning, Matheny pulled starter Danny Duffy, though Duffy had thrown just 65 pitches and had been stretched out enough to go 75-90.
But with runners on first and third, and with every run crucial considering how Cleveland starter Shane Bieber was dominating the Royals’ offense, Matheny brought in reliever Scott Barlow to face No. 9 hitter Oscar Mercado.
The move almost paid off, as Mercado bounced a potential double-play grounder just out of the reach of shortstop Adalberto Mondesi and into left-center field. Jordan Luplow scored.
Cesar Hernández followed by shooting another grounder just past third baseman Maikel Franco down the left-field line for another RBI hit, giving Cleveland a 2-0 lead.