Following a heart-breaking loss in extra innings Tuesday night, the Royals bounced back and earned a split with a 5-4 win over Cincinnati.
Kansas City took advantage of poor defense in the top of the first inning. After Whit Merrifield led off the game with a double to right-center field, Salvador Perez drove him home on a grounder that was thrown wildly to the plate. However, despite loading the bases with one out, the Royals couldn’t add on.
In his second start of the year, Brad Keller toed the slab for his first career matchup with the Reds. But in his first inning of work, his rhythm was stunted by a 17-minute injury delay to umpire Chris Conroy. Conroy was removed from behind home plate with a fractured ring finger. He later returned to umpire at third base.
In the top of the third, the Royals gave more insurance to Keller. Perez, who came in red-hot, smacked a solo home run into the second row of seats in left-center field to give Kansas City a 2-0 lead. It was Perez’ fourth home run of the 2020 campaign.
As it came to be, Keller didn’t need more than the one run the Royals gave him. The right-hander continued to stifle Reds hitters through the first three innings of work. Merrifield pushed the lead to 3-0 on a sacrifice fly in the top of the fourth.
In the ensuing inning, baseball’s unluckiest hitter, Ryan O’Hearn, smashed a ball to the center field wall with the bases loaded. But the Royals’ first baseman missed a grand slam by inches as Nick Senzel robbed it with an incredible catch. It did turn into a run on another sacrifice fly to make it 4-0.
Keller finished his night with six scoreless innings of work and allowed just two singles. The right-hander has not allowed a run in 11-straight innings to start the season. With a 5-0 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh, the game nearly slipped away from the Royals.
The first man out of the Kansas City’s bullpen was Ian Kennedy. Kennedy, however, allowed three runs to the first three batters he faced. Jesse Winker and Freddy Glavis were able to blast two pitches into the right field bleachers. Needing to scramble for outs, Mike Matheny brought Scott Barlow into the game. Though Barlow wasn’t greeted nicely by Josh VanMeter. Sporting a .000 average in 16 at-bats, VanMeter belted Cincinnati’s third home run of the inning to cut the lead to 5-4. The Royals managed to escape the frame holding onto the one-run lead.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Josh Staumont worked around runners at first and second with one out. He punched out three in the inning - all with the curveball. Trevor Rosenthal sweated through the ninth by getting a game-ending double play from former Royal Christian Colon. The win pushes Kansas City’s record to 8-11.
After the off-day on Thursday, the Royals will head to Minnesota for a four-game series with the Twins. Jakob Junis will square off with Jake Odorizzi Friday night. First pitch is slated for 7:10 p.m. CDT.