There’s no denying that the Royals’ West Coast trip has gotten off to brutal start. Well, it only got worse on Wednesday night. Despite facing the team with the third-highest ERA in the American League, Kansas City was shutdown in a 6-1 loss — marking the club’s fifth in a row.
In the top of the first, the Royals squandered an excellent opportunity to grab their first lead of the series. Whit Merrifield led off the game with a single to right field, Andrew Benintendi walked, and both moved up a base on an error from Angels pitcher Griffin Canning. With runners at second and third and one out, Salvador Perez struck out on a pitch in the dirt. After a walk from Jorge Soler to load the bases, Hunter Dozier grounded out to end the threat.
With a taxed bullpen, Kansas City desperately needed Brad Keller to work deep into the game. Early on, it seemed like the Royals’ right-hander was trending that way. He threw only six pitches (all strikes) in the first inning and touched 98 mph on a strikeout.
Unfortunately for Keller, the offense failed to do much damage off Canning. Coming into the night, Kansas City had scored nine runs in its previous four games. For comparison, the Royals had nine runs in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins last Friday — which also happened to be the team’s last win.
Los Angeles finally got to Keller in the bottom of the third. After recording the first two outs of the inning, Keller allowed a walk, single, and a double that scored two runs. Trailing 2-0, the Royals were presented with another chance to climb back into the game.
Salvador Perez led off the top of the fourth with an infield single and Jorge Soler doubled to the wall — putting two runners in scoring position with nobody out. After Dozier popped out, Kelvin Gutiérrez drove in Perez on an infield single to make it 2-1. However, Michael A. Taylor struck out on a pitch well out of the strike zone and Nicky Lopez grounded out to end the inning.
The two teams remained deadlocked at 2-1 until the bottom of the sixth. Keller, who’d kept the Angels in check for five innings, started to get knocked around. The right-handed opened the inning by walking the lead-off hitter and giving up a hard single to left-center field. Kansas City picked up its first out on a sac-bunt, but José Iglesias doubled to the right field corner — scoring two runs. Kean Wong followed up with a soft single to center field — scoring Iglesias and ending Keller’s night at 5 1⁄3 innings.
Over the final three innings, Kansas City had one hit on a two-out single by Lopez in the seventh. Other than that, the offense crawled back into a shell. The lone bright spot for the Royals was Kyle Zimmer, who threw 1 2⁄3 innings with four strikeouts.
The Royals, 29-31, will head to Oakland for a four-game series against the first place Athletics. Mike Minor will go toe-to-toe with Frankie Montas for the series opener on Thursday night. First pitch is slated for 8:40 p.m. CT.