KC Royals reliever Will Smith proved that he belongs in the big leagues with his dominant relief appearance on Labor Day in a 3-1 win over visiting Seattle.
After Royals starter Danny Duffy struggled with his command over just 3.2 innings (he threw 91 pitches), Smith entered the game with two men on base after the Mariners took a 1-0 lead. Smith struck out the only batter he faced in the fourth on three pitches. That was an omen for things to come.
Smith struck out two of the three batters in the fifth. In the sixth, he struck out one in a perfect inning. He struck out the side in the seventh (around a one out double). Smith pitched another perfect inning (the eighth) with one strikeout. He tied a Royals reliever record with eight strikeouts in 4.1 scoreless innings.
Three straight singles in the bottom of the fourth for the Royals tied the game at 1-1. A Felix Hernandez wild pitch in the fifth broke the tie before an Emilio Bonifacio sac fly gave the Royals the 3-1 lead. After King Feliz left with two outs in the seventh due to a back issue, Oliver Perez retired the final four Royals hitters of the game.
The Royals and M’s continue their series on Tuesday night as Bruce Chen gets the start.
**Triple-A Omaha clinched the American Northern Division of the Pacific Coast League on the final day of the regular season (their third straight title). Their quest for a PCL title begins on Wednesday in OKC with Yordano Ventura on the mound.