Homer Bailey has something to smile about if he goes hunting with Cal Eldred during the offseason. Bailey overcame injuries and struggles to win consecutive starts for the first time since July 2017.
”I can be the first person to say wins are precious. Sometimes they can be few and far between, so you enjoy them when they come,” Bailey said after holding the New York Yankees to three hits over six innings in the Kansas City Royals’ 6-1 victory Thursday night.
Eldred, the Royals’ pitching coach, had called Bailey in January, after the right-hander was released. Eldred did some research, knowing they had a common interest.
Bailey was intrigued by Eldred’s pitch.
Jorge Soler and Ryan O’Hearn backed Bailey (2-1) with solo home runs off Domingo German (3-1), and the Royals won their second straight after starting the season 5-12, including 0-5 on the road.
Bailey, who turns 33 on May 3, has been among baseball’s biggest busts since signing a $105 million, six-year contract with Cincinnati before the 2014 season, not able to overcome injuries that have prevented him from pitching a full season since 2013. He went 18-32 for the Reds after the big deal, missing more than 14 months following Tommy John surgery in May 2015 and then needing another operation in February 2017 to remove bone spurs from his right elbow.
He was 1-14 last season, was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in December and released with $28 million still due. He signed a minor league contract with the Royals on Feb. 9, made the team and after opening with a no decision against Minnesota and a loss to Seattle, allowed two hits over seven scoreless innings to beat Cleveland last Saturday for his first win since May 12.
He gave up a tying run to the Yankees on Gleyber Torres’ first-inning sacrifice fly following singles by Aaron Judge and Luke Voit, then gave up just one more hit. Bailey, who struck out six and walked one, had not won back-to-back starts since July 4, 2017, at Colorado and five days later at Arizona.
Richard Lovelady got five outs, and former Yankee Ian Kennedy finished. New York was limited to four singles, including a pair by Clint Frazier that raised his average to .347.
Bailey has a 4.30 ERA, a figure inflated when gave up seven runs to the Mariners.
German gave up three runs and six hits in six innings with nine strikeouts and no walks. He gave up consecutive doubles in the first to Adalberto Mondesi – who had been 0 for 20 on the road this year – and Alex Gordon, then fell behind 3-1 on leadoff homers by Soler in the second and O’Hearn in the fourth.
Whit Merrifield hit an RBI double in the seventh off Jonathan Holder, and Mondesi added sacrifice flies against Zack Britton and Joseph Harvey.
In the happy clubhouse, Eldred admitted he and Bailey do have one significant disagreement.