In the throes of a ten-game homestand that started with five losses in six games at the hands of first the Chicago Cubs and then the St. Louis Cardinals, the lowly Kansas City Royals hoped for the modest change of pace of simply winning a baseball game. Hoping to notch another win in a season in which they would be better served in the long run by losing, Ned Yost’s club turned to rookie Brad Keller to try to right both his and the team’s ships after a rough start last time out.
On his fifth pitch of the night, Brad Keller served up a middle-in two-seamer to Devon Travis that crept over the wall for a solo shot. This easily could have been the beginning of a rough night for the Royals’ rookie. It probably should have been when he issued a walk to the very next batter, Justin Smoak, missing on four straight pitches. Fortunately for Keller, he got out of the inning without allowing any further damage.
In the next frame, Keller walked the leadoff man, Russell Martin. Once again, the fates smiled on Keller, lucking out as Toronto’s third base coach Luis Rivera forgot who plays left field for the Royals and elected to send Russell Martin home from second on Danny Jansen’s first career hit, a grounder hit through the hole between third and short but pretty much right into the gaping maw of a hard-changing Alex Gordon’s mitt. Fools may rush in, but dopes send 35-year-old catchers barreling home on Alex Gordon’s arm.
With the Royals trailing 1-0 heading to the bottom of the second, their offense wasted little time pouncing on Blue Jays’ starter Sean Reid-Foley, who was making his first major-league start along with catcher and long-time minor-league battery-mate Danny Jansen. With two outs, Brett Phillips worked a walk with the gift of two calls on borderline pitches, and Ryan O’Hearn followed the free pass with a dong stroked to the opposite field in left.
After a quiet third from the Royals in which Whit Merrifield’s second of three singles was wasted, the Royals loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth and Ryan O’Hearn stepping to the plate with the first chance to drive in a run. Reid-Foley, whose command eluded him for most of his debut, issued a full-count RBI walk to the Royals’ rookie first baseman. As has been the case more often than not this season, the Royals didn’t make the most of an opportunity, however, and after a bases-loaded no-out walk failed to plate another run.
With the score 3-1, the Royals took the whopper off the gas and hoped to coast to a victory on mostly flat ground. They were able to do this in large part due to Brad Keller buckling down. After a somewhat rocky first two innings, Keller settled down and faced the minimum in the third through seventh innings with double plays erasing the two runners he did allow after the second. For the night, Keller went seven strong on 100 pitches, striking out four while walking two and allowing four hits, the only run coming in the form of that Devon Travis solo shot in the top of the first.
Brandon Maurer tried to give it away in the eighth, putting two aboard with two outs, but he eventually escaped the frame without Maurering it all up.
With Maurer forgetting who he was, Ned Yost turned to “closer” Wily Peralta to try close things out. Peralta immediately put a runner on, walking Justin Smoak, insisting on making things interesting. After getting Grichuk swinging for the first out of the ninth, former Royal Kendrys Morales stepped to the plate with a chance to tie the game with a swing of the bat. With the Royals shifted heavily to the dead-pull DH, Morales sent a grounder to third baseman Alcides Escobar’s right. Escobar, essentially playing a drawn-in short, gloved it, backhanded a throw to Adalberto Mondesí at the bag at second, and watched as his replacement turned to complete the double play to get the Royals out of the jam, preserving the 3-1 win for the Royals.
The rookies Brad Keller and Ryan O’Hearn were obviously the players of the game for the Royals. The win snapped a three-game losing streak and marked just their third win in the month of August. The win spoiled the debut of Sean Reid-Foley and Danny Jansen. Reid-Foley struck out three in his five-inning debut, walking three and allowing six hits, leading to three runs allowed. Hitting ninth, Jansen singled twice in three trips to the plate.