Relievers combine for 8 innings of work after early exit by Volquez
By Scott Chasen
KANSAS CITY -- Starting a stretch of 17 games in 17 days, the Royals' pitching staff was up against it on Friday night. Right-hander Edinson Volquez was only able to record three outs before being lifted in a 13-4 loss to the Astros, putting the team in danger of burning through its bullpen on the first day of the stretch.
Right-hander Dillon Gee and lefty Brian Flynn were called upon to eat up the rest of the innings, and that's exactly what they did. Gee pitched three scoreless frames, striking out two on 59 pitches. Flynn came in and finished the last five innings, yielding one run and striking out five, much to the relief of manager Ned Yost.
"We're starting 17 straight games in a row. I'm trying to stay away from having to find eight innings of relief work," Yost said. "Gee and Flynn were phenomenal. That was [the] absolute best case scenario."
As Volquez trotted out for the second inning with the Royals down 9-0, Yost hoped Volquez might be able to get a few more outs. Likewise, Volquez said he wanted another chance to help save the bullpen.
But Volquez allowed the first three batters of the second inning to reach, and Yost was forced to hand the ball over to Gee with the bases loaded and none out.
"It's a tough situation to come into for a guy like me. I'm not a big strikeout guy," Gee said. "You just try to do the best you can."
Those three inherited runners eventually crossed the plate, but Gee limited the damage. He did the same in the third and fourth innings, before giving way to Flynn.
"I'm upset with myself because I didn't get to go longer," Gee said. "Flynn did an amazing job, coming in and finishing the game out."
For Flynn, it was all about being aggressive early. He tried to attack batters from the start, and even though he gave up a home run to Astros left fielder Colby Rasmus in the eighth, Flynn managed to keep his pitch count low.
Flynn eventually made his way through the fifth, sixth and seventh innings on fewer pitches (32) than it took Volquez to get through the first inning (36).
"You attack with fastballs, try to keep the pitch count low," Flynn said. "[We got] a lot of props from everyone. We all know baseball, so we all know saving those guys for tomorrow ... is huge."
Scott Chasen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Kansas City. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.