Kansas City Royals ignited by return of these two players in home win vs. Oakland A’s

·3 min read

Edward Olivares — it appears — does not want to return to Omaha.

And really, who could blame him?

The Kansas City outfielder — optioned back to Triple-A Omaha eight separate times during the season a year ago while caught up in Royals roster crunches — emphatically made his case to stick with the big-league team for the rest of 2022 on Friday night.

In his first game back from a quad injury that had shelved him for six weeks (and after finishing off a rehab stint in Omaha, of course), Olivares blasted no-doubt homers in his first two at-bats, pacing the Royals’ offense in a 3-1 home victory over the Oakland A’s at Kauffman Stadium.

“Super excited,” Olivares said after the game through an interpreter. “I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time, and I’m here and glad to contribute.”

Royals right fielder Edward Olivares homers for the second time of the night as the Kansas City Royals take on the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium on June 24, 2022 in Kansas City.
Royals right fielder Edward Olivares homers for the second time of the night as the Kansas City Royals take on the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium on June 24, 2022 in Kansas City.

It was one of two welcome returns for the Royals on Friday night.

Zack Greinke — he came back from a flexor strain that first sidelined him in late May — was sharp while tossing six innings of one-run ball.

“Just finishing my pitches better right now. Hopefully, I can continue doing that,” Greinke said. “I felt a little sharper, especially with the fastball.”

Greinke struck out four and walked none, relying heavily on a previously seldom-used pitch, at least classification-wise: his cutter.

The right-hander threw 17 cut fastballs on Friday night according to Statcast, which was his highest total of the season and also the most of any Royals pitcher in a game this season. KC pitchers, in general, tend to not throw the offering; the team had thrown just 84 combined cutters in 68 games before Friday, by far the lowest output in the majors.

After the game, Greinke said he was getting that “cutter” designation from Statcast by executing an off-shoot of his normal slider. In general, though, he was looking to keep the A’s guessing.

“The thought is to mix it up some and throw more pitches instead of a couple of pitches,” Greinke said.

Greinke picked up his first win in 11 starts with the Royals this season after reuniting with the team on a one-year deal this offseason.

Carlos Santana continued his recent hot stretch with the Royals’ other RBI, while Dylan Coleman, Jose Cuas and Scott Barlow each chipped in a scoreless inning as the Royals won in front of 25,077 fans.

Meanwhile, Olivares’ home runs — both toward the Royals Hall of Fame in left field — were blasts. His first sailed 430 feet, while the second traveled 411; he bat-flipped both times after contact after knowing he’d gotten enough.

The round-trippers were Olivares’ first two this season. In his first 15 games before the injury, he’d hit .371 with nine singles and four doubles but no homers.

“We were pleasantly surprised that he saved them till they got here (in Kansas City),” Royals manager Mike Matheny said with a smile. “He just continues to impress us and get better, whether it’s in the outfield, but definitely at the plate. We talk about dangerous hitters, and a lot of these young players that we have when they walk up there, it looks like damage is about to happen. And he’s just been in a good place.”

The Royals (26-43) will need just one victory over the weekend to secure their third consecutive series win; KC took 2 of 3 from both Oakland and the LA Angels on its most recent road trip.