Where to start on this one? There was one terrific performance and another that was less impressive but we’ve waited longer to see. I guess it makes sense to start with the one we’ve been waiting for.
This was Bubba Starling’s second major league game. In the fifth inning, he came up in the biggest spot of his young career. Men at first and third with one out and his team down by one. To this point, Matt Boyd had been pitching pretty well. Whit Merrifield led off the game with a single but Boyd hadn’t allowed a runner since then until Hunter Dozier’s lead-double of this inning. Boyd fired a fastball right on the inner corner but Bubba muscled it into left field to tie the game and earned yet another standing ovation. Nicky Lopez followed up with an RBI single of his own to put the Royals in the lead for the first and final time.
But then there’s Brad Keller. He only allowed four hits, two each in the second and eighth innings. He’d have avoided giving up any runs if Harold Castro hadn’t hit a triple for the second hit in the second inning. Only allowing four hits and a single run are good things, but they weren’t even the most impressive part of Keller’s night. Keller pitched eight innings and struck out seven. That’s pretty solid. But the absolute best part was that, in a year where he has been plagued by walks, he didn’t hand out even a single free pass. His fastball had good life, he was nailing his targets, and his slider was fooling people badly. There were absolutely no downsides to this start. Excellently done, Brad Keller.
The Royals got two more runs in the sixth inning when Cheslor Cuthbert drove in Whit Merrifield and Alex Gordon. Matt Boyd has to feel like he had some progress, tonight. The biggest problem he’s been facing has been the fact that he’s allowed WAY too many home runs. Tonight he allowed none. He also struck out 10 in his seven innings. It could have been worse for him. Unfortunately, he was up against Brad Keller at his very best and never really stood a chance.
The Royals continue to be undefeated since the All-Star Break. And they’ve guaranteed a series victory their first time out. It will be their first in nearly a month. Is it a coincidence that they haven’t lost a game since Bubba Starling joined the team? Maybe. But I’m not willing to send him anywhere else, just yet. They’ll go for a sweep, tomorrow. It would be their first since nearly the beginning of the season when they swept Cleveland. It will be Homer Bailey in what could be his last start as a Royal. He will oppose Jordan Zimmermann who has yet to win a game and carries an ERA of 6.29 if you want to start drooling at the thought of potential offensive outbursts.