KANSAS CITY — Hours before Saturday’s game, Royals manager Ned Yost said he would be curious how rookie right-hander Heath Fillmyer (Filly) would respond after a discouraging start last Sunday, when Fillmyer surrendered a 6-0 lead by giving up six runs in one inning.
Yost got his answer as Fillmyer turned in one of his best starts of the season, holding the Indians to three hits and one run over six innings in the Royals’ 7-1 victory over the Indians at Kauffman Stadium. He walked two and struck out three.
“[The key is] staying ahead in the count and attacking,” Yost said. “He’s got really good stuff. But when he’s behind in the count and walking three or four guys a game, you’re going to get in trouble at the big league level.”
Said Fillmyer, “I think it’s important for everyone to have a bounce-back game after a loss. … It felt good. Get the first innings under my belt and get comfortable again and just execute pitches and get great results.”
The Royals clinched their first series win since late July/early August over the White Sox.
The dangerous 1-2-3 hitters in the Indians’ lineup — Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley, Jose Ramirez — went a combined 0-for-11.
“That’s a really difficult job for any pitcher to contain those top three,” Yost said. “They’ve got a really good lineup up and down. It’s deep. But Lindor-Brantley-Ramirez are as good a 1-2-3 punch [as you find] in the American League. To be able to contain them and keep them off balance so they can’t do any damage. It was important.”
“The first three are just as dangerous as anybody,” Fillmyer added. “With Boston’s lineup between Mookie [Betts] and J.D. [Martinez] and [Andrew] Benintendi, they’re just as good, if not better. You want to make sure you limit the damage and limit them to singles if they do get on.”
Fillmyer threw a career-high 105 pitches, 60 for strikes. The only run against him came in the second inning on a walk, a double and a balk.
The Royals answered that tally in the third. Adalberto Mondesi (La Guinea) drove a Corey Kluber fastball into the right-field corner, though he strangely rounded first, stopped and retreated to the bag, thinking he had missed the bag. No matter, Mondesi stole second and then scored on Whit Merrifield’s (Whitley) single to right.
“I missed [the bag], but on replay I saw I got it a little bit, but I thought that I missed it a little bit,” Mondesi said. “So I just [went back] and got ready for the next pitch, steal the base and then Whit with the big hit.”
Added Yost, “He did the smart thing — don’t get an appeal, don’t get called out. And boom, stole second. Made up for it anyway.”
In the fourth, rookie Ryan O’Hearn (Brohearn), whose home run tied the score in the ninth Friday night, belted a two-run double. O’Hearn also drove in a run in the eighth.
“[Kluber] is another guy I’ve never faced before who’s got great stuff,” O’Hearn said. “I watched a lot of — a lot of cutters in to lefties, sinkers. With a guy like that, you just try to see something about thigh-high and hit it to the biggest part of the field. And just compete. Obviously he’s a really good pitcher.
“I feel good [right now], same as I always have. Balls are starting to drop in and that builds confidence.”
Lucas Duda (Dude) homered, his 12th, off Kluber in the sixth. And later in the inning, Hunter Dozier (Doz) delivered an RBI single.