Home News Freddy Fermin hits walk-off in Royals’ win over Guardians

Freddy Fermin hits walk-off in Royals’ win over Guardians

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KANSAS CITY — For a moment, it looked like the Royals would sustain another heartbreaking loss in a season of too many losses when José Ramírez successfully stole home in the top of the 10th inning on Thursday afternoon.

But Freddy Fermin had other ideas. The Royals backup catcher laced a two-run, pinch-hit double for a 4-3 walk-off win in 10 innings over the Guardians at Kauffman Stadium, Fermin’s second career walk-off RBI.

“He’s a great guy to have in the clubhouse, always ready,” Nicky Lopez said. “High-motor guy, and the situation is never too big for him. Couldn’t have been a better person.”

Fermin’s moment offered a bit of respite from what has already been a long season before even hitting the All-Star break. As the Royals hit the halfway mark of the season with Game 81 on Thursday, they remain the second-worst team in baseball and 35 games under .500 at 23-58.

There was an understanding entering this year that the Royals would not be contenders and that their evaluation of a young offense and implementation of new processes and ideas throughout the organization on the pitching side would take time.

But there is plenty of frustration about where Kansas City stands. Royals chairman and CEO John Sherman acknowledged he thought his team would be farther along in improvement than where the Royals are now.

“I feel accountable for where we are right now with our baseball team,” Sherman said Thursday morning during a midseason press conference. “We are committed to doing what it takes to return to form and develop a playoff-caliber team here in Kansas City. We made meaningful changes both on and off the field last year that were necessary. But this is a real year of evaluation. And that evaluation right now is painful.”

In an hour-long press conference dominated by new stadium questions, Sherman sprinkled in some comments about the Royals’ on-field performance. He maintained that getting the Royals — a team on pace for 116 losses and its seventh consecutive losing season — back to the postseason is his priority.

He expressed “total confidence” in general manager J.J. Picollo and manager Matt Quatraro, too, in their first year implementing changes made throughout the offseason.

“[Quatraro] and [Picollo] knew what they were taking on here,” Sherman said. “And what I appreciate about their approach, particularly with a young group like we have today, is the growth mindset. Keeping these players even and focusing on their processes and continuous improvement. … At the end of the day, this is a performance business. This is about results, and results in baseball are about wins and losses. We have some ground to cover.”

At the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline, the Royals will be sellers, looking to supplement their young core at the Major League level while building out their farm system. And in the second half, the evaluation will continue, with the Royals getting an extended look at more of their depth.

That starts Friday, when No. 14 prospect Alec Marsh will make his debut against the Dodgers with Jordan Lyles out with an illness.

The second-half evaluation will help them formulate a plan for a crucial upcoming offseason.

“We’re ready to spend some money,” said Sherman, although when exactly that will be is unclear. “But it’s about the missing pieces of the puzzle to make sure we’re ready to compete and get back to the postseason.”

And the Royals look for improvement from the group they have in the Majors now. That can be challenging as the losses pile up, but the message from the coaching staff remains consistent.

“One thing we’ve learned as a team is not underestimating how hard this game is and how much growth we still have in front of us,” Quatraro said. “I think the mindset of getting better each day is something that we’re challenging ourselves with. … We’ve had some good parts and things we feel really good about. There are a lot of things we know, and these guys are honest with themselves, that we need to improve.”

As frustrating as this season is, players understand that mindset.

“Constantly going back and asking myself, ‘What could I have done here to help in what type of way?’” shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. said. “Right now, I feel like we have to do everything perfect to get things going. So I’m trying not to do that because it doesn’t help.

“It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process. We’ve got to trust everyone is working to get better every day. You have to care. It hurts me to lose. It’s tough. You really have to find a good mindset, and that’s what I’m trying to do. Take it pitch-by-pitch, play worry-free baseball and go out there every day giving 100%.”

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