Any time a team can turn a Rule 5 pick into anything of note is at least a minor victory. That Rule 5 pick Brad Keller—a 40-man casualty snagged from the Diamondbacks’ organization this past offseason—has been one of the few bright spots on the Royals’ major-league roster carries with it an inherent damning with faint praise given the complete disaster into which the 2018 Kansas City Royals have devolved. But regardless of the state of the team in this lost season, Keller’s campaign has been and continues to be a success.
Brad Keller continued his exclamatory season this afternoon, facing and controlling a solid Angels club featuring the best player in the game, Mike Trout. In his seven innings of work, Keller allowed just four baserunners, two by way of the walk and another two via singles—via Mike Trout and Andrelton Simmons. Using 109 pitches to get through seven frames, the contact-oriented Keller struck out a career-high six batsmen, while inducing 13 groundouts—one a double-play ball from Albert Pujols that erased a walk to Trout—and no flyouts.
With Keller locking down the Angels lineup for seven full frames, Ned Yost needed just six outs from his generally dismal bullpen. Tim Hill hit the first batter he faced, David Fletcher. The plunking put what was then the tying runner aboard, prompting Yost to yank Hill then and there, fingering the possible next Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy to finish out the eighth. McCarthy silenced the next three Angels’ bats, but not before Fletcher swiped a bag to get into scoring position, sending pulse-rates rocketing to unhealthy levels. Wily Peralta got his first post-Kelvin-Herrera save opportunity after last week’s trade (Tim Hill got the first save after Herrera’s departure on Friday), and he made the most of it, ceding a two-out single to Albert Pujols before shutting the door on the Angels.
Offensively, the Royals didn’t do much, but facing southpaw Tyler Skaggs, they got just enough done to eke out the 2-0 win. After a quiet first three innings, Hunter Dozier led off the bottom of the fourth with a double smoked into the gap in left-center. Lucas Duda followed with a single to drive Dozier in before getting hung out to dry on an Alcides Escobar tailor-made double-play ball.
The Royals sent the minimum to the plate in the fifth and sixth innings thanks to Abraham Almonte erasing himself from the basepaths after getting picked off in the sixth, and the Royals squandered a one-out Alcides Escobar walk in the seventh, stranding him after he accomplished the herculean feat of managing a walk.
In the eighth, however, the Royals got back on the scoreboard with Adalberto Mondesí leading things off with a walk. Whit Merrifield stroked a single to right, moving the fleet-footed Mondesí up 180 feet to third, setting the table for a Rosell Herrera RBI-single.
It should probably be noted that Alcides Escobar made a start at third base this afternoon, the latest development in The Continuing Adventures of the Newly Minted Utility Man.
If the Royals had an offensive standout today, it was probably new Royal Rosell Herrera, whose three hits put him on base more than any of his teammates and one of which drove in the Royals’ eighth-inning insurance run. Every Royal but Salvador Pérez reached base at least once. To sink into further ignominy, Pérez went 0-for-4 with a grounding-into-a-double-play mixed in for bad measure.
The win is the Royals’ fourth in the month of June. That is not many. To say it’s been a bad month for the Kansas City nine would be a grotesque understatement.