Left-handed pitcher Mike Minor was electric tonight, helping the Kansas City Royals snap their five-game losing streak with a 6-1 win over the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics. Minor finished the game with three hits, one run and eight strikeouts over seven innings, which was the first quality start of the month for the Royals' starting rotation.
Kansas City improves to a 30-31 record on the season, while Oakland falls to 37-27.
Here are three things I took away from tonight's game.
Mike Minor is finally reaching his top form
Minor had arguably his best game of the season tonight, with 45 pitches with a 2,500+ spin rate, 14 pitches with a 2,600+ spin rate and four pitches with a 2,700+ spin rate, resulting in an average spin rate of 2,448 and 19 whiffs. All of the top eight pitches in spin rate for Minor on the game were sliders that had a 30+ inch vertical break, with the only one that was hit and resulted in a baserunner being an error that was from a dropped flyball by Andrew Benintendi.
Minor now has three quality starts and four starts with two or fewer earned runs allowed in the last month, lowering his ERA from 5.75 to 4.63 in that time span. With some other starters, such as Kris Bubic and Brad Keller, struggling of late, an emerging Minor could be huge for the Royals to get some wins in the coming weeks on their path to October.
Andrew Benintendi needs more All-Star consideration
What an acquisition this guy has been! Benintendi had yet another big game tonight, going 2-for-4 with an eighth-inning home run that increased the Royals’ lead to 4-1. That was his seventh homer of the season and had a 103.5 exit velocity, traveled 401 feet and had a .900 expected batting average (xBA), the second-best hit ball tonight behind Jorge Soler’s home run, which had a 108.4 exit velocity, went 425 feet and had a .930 xBA. Since the start of May, Benintendi has been easily one of the best outfielders in the MLB with an OPS well over .800 in both May and the early part of June. Vote Benny!
Whit Merrifield had a night to forget
Merrifield had a 10-game hitting streak snapped tonight after going 0-for-5 in this one, having two strikeouts and just one ball hit over 90 MPH. Merrifield's numbers this season haven’t been quite what we’d hope, with a sub-100 OPS+ and the lowest batting average of his career (.263), but considering he had a 10-game hitting streak entering tonight, there’s still reason to believe he is making a turn in the right direction.