Starting pitcher Matt Harvey earned a bearhug from manager Brandon Hyde in the Orioles’ dugout.
In a season in which he has dealt with nagging injuries and struggles with his command, Harvey put together his best performance, throwing six innings of three-hit ball in the Orioles’ 5-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.
The Orioles won their first series in Kansas City since 2012 when they swept a two-game set. Baltimore also recorded its third shutout of the season.
“There was a hug in the dugout just because he wants to go deep in the game and he wants to get back to the form that he was in 2012-2015 and he works extremely hard at it,” Hyde said. “He’s disappointed with not going deeper in games and the fourth- and fifth-inning issues he’s kind of had. I think a lot of that is physical, too. The year layoff, the weird year he had the year before, injury stuff.
“But for him to get an extended period of rest and go out and really keep his pitch count down, for me that’s the huge thing with our starters. It was nice to see a starter go six.”
Harvey went 0-3 with an 11.57 ERA in seven games (11 2/3 innings), including four starts, for the Royals last season. He was much better against his former team and became the first former Royal to win a start as a visitor at Kauffman Stadium since Zack Greinke on September 14, 2019, with Houston.
Harvey (4-10) had two strikeouts and one walk, throwing 48 strikes and 26 balls. He earned his first win since May 1st at Oakland, snapping a 12-start winless skid in which he went 0-9 with a 10.20 ERA (51 earned runs in 45 innings).
“I think you go through so many struggles in the middle of the season leading up to the [All-Star] break and it just kind of wears on you a little bit,” Harvey said. “Having, in my mind, that restart where I came into today and put in my mind that I was starting over, really trying to go out there and flip the switch on such a poor first half.”
Orioles shortstop Ramón Urías had two hits and two RBIs. He has seven multi-hit games in his last 10, going 14-for-39 (.359).
“I think his confidence is definitely growing,” Hyde said about Urías. “He’s getting a couple hits a game, it seems like. A big hit early with a ball down the right-field line to score a couple of runs. Huge hit for us kind of early.”
Royals right-hander Carlos Hernández (1-1) made his first start this season after 12 appearances out of the bullpen. He threw in the high 90s but struggled with his command and left after four innings.
Hernandez got into trouble in the third when he loaded the bases with two four-pitch walks and a single by Austin Hays. Urias then delivered a two-run single to right for a 2-0 lead.
Harvey, who was pitching on 10 days’ rest, cruised through the first three innings before issuing a pair of walks to open the fourth and allowing a two-out infield single to Hunter Dozier. However, Harvey got Michael Taylor to ground out to third on his 24th pitch of the inning.
“Having those four days off to just kind of recharge, and get to see the family and spend some really quality time with loved ones, it definitely helps and definitely gets your mind back into a better place where it’s easy to flip the switch and get after it in the second half,” Harvey said.
The Orioles increased the margin to 3-0 in the fifth when Hays doubled to left and scored on a single by Trey Mancini off Kyle Zimmer.
Catcher Austin Wynns produced the Orioles’ fourth run with a double to left that scored Ryan McKenna from first base.
Adam Plutko started the seventh and allowed a double to Dozier when Hays could not make a diving catch. Plutko then walked Taylor and was pulled by Hyde after getting Cam Gallagher to fly out to left.
Tanner Scott preserved the shutout by striking out Nicky Lopez and getting Whit Merrifield to ground out to short.
A couple of fielding gaffes by the Royals allowed the Orioles to increase the lead in the eighth. Domingo Leyba led off with a double and moved to third on a bunt by McKenna that pitcher Greg Holland could not handle. Dozier, the third baseman, then couldn’t handle a grounder by Kelvin Gutiérrez that allowed Leyba to score the fifth run.
The Orioles have won six of their last 12 road games on the heels of a 20-game losing streak.
Notes: Infielder Maikel Franco, who is on the 10-day injured list because a sprained right ankle, is fielding ground balls and taking batting practice. “I think we’re going to have him play in a couple of games somewhere, and then hopefully he’ll be ready soon,” Hyde said.