Royals’ unlikely closer reversed track record vs. Angels’ Mike Trout to secure KC win

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

In the 11th inning of one of the wildest games of the Major League Baseball season, with incredible ebbs and flows with ridiculously impressive individual performances, the Kansas City Royals basically had one option remaining in their bullpen to throw at the Los Angeles Angels.

Right-hander Daniel Mengden, who signed a minor-league free-agent deal with the Royals this winter, spent the previous season overseas with the Kia Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization after having spent seven years in the Oakland Athletics organization.

The Royals brought him back to the big leagues on June 13 (he appeared in the majors in 2016-20). He’d made one previous appearance in middle relief with the Royals before Tuesday night.

Mengden allowed one unearned run thanks to the automatic runner at second base in extra innings, but he earned his second career save and first with the Royals to finish off a 12-11 series-clinching win in 11 innings at Angel Stadium.

The save marked Mengden’s first in 1,015 days. His only other save came on September 10, 2019.

He knew he was the last man standing in that bullpen after the Royals had used eight pitchers. He also knew he’d get the top of the batting order for the Angels, .300 hitter Taylor Ward, followed by three-time MVP Mike Trout and then reigning MVP Shohei Ohtani.

“I knew going into extras that me and (Dylan) Coleman were the last two guys up,” Mengden said. “When he went out for the 10th and cleaned it up, I figured they were going to hand the ball to me in the 11th. So I was ready to go.

“I knew I was getting the heart of the lineup. I faced this team probably seven to 10 times over the stint with Oakland. I knew what they had and faced them before. I was ready for the moment and really wanted that.”

In the previous 10 innings, Ohtani had already hit a pair of three-run home runs, collected seven RBIs, ignited the home crowd and lit up the baseball world far and wide as news of his in-progress exploits hit social media.

Ohtani might not have been the scariest matchup for the Royals in the 11th inning.

Mengden also had a cringeworthy track record against that other superstar, Trout.

In 11 prior meetings with Mengden, Trout went 7 for 9 (.778 batting average) with two walks, two doubles, two home runs, and five RBIs.

“Some days you win, some days you lose,” Mengden said. “Somebody brought up that Trout has had a lot of success against me. Well, only this one counted today. So it’s one of those things where the past is the past and it’s just about beating the guy in that moment. I had to beat three guys, and it happened to be some of the best ones. Got it done.”

The Royals needed Mengden to come through. Having given up a five-run lead going into the sixth inning and then losing a three-run lead in the ninth to get to extra innings, they’d taken a two-run lead in the top of the 11th.

They needed Mengden to get three outs, with a runner starting on second, before the most dangerous part of the Angels’ lineup could get two runs.

“We also knew that he and Trout didn’t look so good head-to-head,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said of the pressure-packed situation he dropped Mengden into. “He’s hit a couple homers off of him. That sort of thing, I know he knows too. He goes out and marches right through the tough part of their order.”

Ward singled to center to start the inning. Royals center fielder Michael A. Taylor closed fast, but wisely decided to keep the ball in front of him with a two-run lead instead of trying to make a highlight-reel catch.

Then Mengden struck out his nemesis Trout, swinging, on a fastball. Ohtani hit a deep fly ball that got the automatic runner in from third to make it a one-run game and give Ohtani his eighth RBI of the night. Mengden then got Angels cleanup hitter Jared Walsh to pop up to Whit Merrifield to end the game.

“You want these big moments,” Mengden said. “And, of course, coming to a new team and being thrown into the moment and running with it then getting the save there and helping the boys win, there’s no greater feeling right there than to help a new team and try to make an impact as soon as you can.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting