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Red Sox 7, RoyaLLLLLLLs 6

You can’t say they didn’t have chances.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not even really sure to begin with this one. The Royals had three different leads and still lost. Mike Matheny’s genius idea of moving the terrible Jorge Soler up to the No. 2 spot in the lineup blew up in his face. Brad Keller made his case for the worst pitcher in baseball. Let’s get to it.

Whit Merrifield, who I continue to believe should have the green light to hit everybody else in the clubhouse with a bat to take out the frustration of being wasted on so many terrible teams, continues to absolutely rake. He’s gone from .247 to .287 in the last 30 days, proving those “is he starting to regress?” talks we had in May premature. He snuck a leadoff homer inside the Pesky Pole to open the night, giving Brad Keller a 1-0 lead.

But Brad Keller did not keep that lead. Instead, he let the first five Red Sox to bat in the inning reach on a hit by pitch and four singles. Somehow, only two runs scored because of a TOOTBLAN and a double play. 2-1, Red Sox.

Michael A. Taylor singled in Hunter Dozier, who had a couple of doubles, in to tie the score 2-2 in the second. The Red Sox got the run back in the third on a sacrifice fly. In the fourth, Taylor swatted a two-run homer to the opposite field, his seventh of the year, giving Brad Keller a 4-3 lead.

But Brad Keller did not keep that lead. Instead, he let the first four Red Sox to bat in the inning reach on three singles and a walk. Somehow, only two runs scored because of another double play. 4-3, Red Sox.

Ryan O’Hearn got the two runs back in the very next frame, cranking a two-run bomb to dead center field. At 419 feet, it was the third homer for O’Hearn in the last week since he returned from Omaha, continuing that power surge we saw him go on in AAA. It was O’Hearn’s sixth homer of the year, giving Brad Keller a 6-5 lead.

But, and stop me if you’ve heard this before, Brad Keller did not keep that lead. Mike Matheny stupidly threw him back out there in the sixth, where he shockingly let the leadoff man reach. Jake Brentz relieved Keller at this point, and he gave up a two-run double to put Boston back in front, 7-6. The Royals would not score again.

Let’s talk about Keller. I am definitely not shy of using hyperboles in these recaps when it comes to describing terribleness. But I am not exaggerating when I say that Brad Keller is awful and I have no idea why they let him go as long as they did. Through five innings, Brad Keller had given up nine hits, five walks, and a hit by pitch. He was at 100 pitches. WHY would you think putting him back out there would go well? In all, Keller gave up 16 baserunners, which is absolutely insane. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Royals starter give up 16 baserunners, because when they’re bad, they’re always yanked long before they can give up that many.

Keller’s final line: 15 outs, 16 baserunners, 102 pitches. The ERA is 6.67. The WHIP is 1.88. The broadcasting crew kept making excuses for him, saying things like “man, the Red Sox keep finding holes!” He was absolutely lit up like a Christmas tree. He’s quite lucky they only got him for six runs, because he got bailed out with multiple double plays and a couple of sharp lineouts. He’s gone from really good to really terrible in a three-year span. I have no idea why it’s happening, or who is to blame. But the demise of Keller is among the biggest problems for the Royals this year, and things are getting worse when you thought he couldn’t get worse.

As for the offense, the Royals had 13 hits and drew three walks, so they did enough on this side. Merrifield had two hits. O’Hearn and Taylor both had three. Hunter Dozier actually hit the ball well. Sal Perez is mired in a deep slump, as he’s 2 for his last 24. Jorge Soler totally sucked, going 0-for-5 and grounding out in a huge spot with the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position in the eighth. I can’t believe they moved him up in the lineup. The best thing for the Royals would probably be to DFA Soler at this point, as they’re clearly not getting anything for him in a trade, and they shouldn’t make any effort to keep him when his contract ends at the end of the year.

Also, Emmanuel Rivera started for just his second big-league game, but he was pulled in the second with what the team is calling wrist pain. Edward Olivares was pulled from his game in Omaha just a few minutes after the Rivera injury happened, so he’s probably coming back up to ride the bench for Soler and Dozier again for a couple of weeks.

Here’s what I’d do. I’d DFA Soler and play Olivares in the outfield. I want to send Dozier down too, utilizing his option, but I’m not sure who’s playing third with Rivera hurt and Gutierrez/Alberto being bad. I would get Brad Keller the hell out of the rotation in whatever way possible, calling up Jake Junis to take his spot. I’m glad Richard Lovelady is up here. It’s a start. I’d DFA Anthony Swarak and get Jackson Kowar back up here to relieve, letting him get his feet wet in the bullpen. Oh, and please fire Cal Eldred.

Ryan Lefebvre after the game: “The Royals have fought the Red Sox hard for each of the last two nights!” Great, buddy. That makes it all the better. I just want to hear Rex Hudler finally lose it and shout “BRAD KELLER SUCKS” one time. It’ll make the whole season worth it.

The Royals are now 33-45, losers of seven in a row and in the midst of their fourth losing streak of at least five games. Considering the season is less than halfway over, that’s pretty remarkable. They have THREE five-game losing streaks THIS MONTH. Since June 4, Kansas City is 4-19. You kind of felt like that collapse in New York last Tuesday had the potential of triggering a slide, and that’s exactly what it’s done.

Mike Minor goes tomorrow. I don’t even have anything sarcastic or smug to say. I’m sure it will go great. First pitch is at 6:10 pm.