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Fantastic first inning fuels fire, foes finished 9-1

Last night’s offensive struggles were quickly put in the past

MLB: MAY 10 White Sox at Royals Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Kansas City’s offense roughed up Lance Lynn while the pitching shut down Chicago’s bats as the Royals cruised to a 9-1 victory over the White Sox.

Brad Keller began his outing by walking Tim Anderson, who has a career 3.6% walk rate, and then walked Andrew Benintendi on four pitches. After a mound visit, he managed to coax a double play out of Andrew Vaughn and then strike out Luis Robert to end the inning. That’s when the fun began.

The Royals jumped on Lance Lynn right off the bat. After Bobby Witt Jr. flew out on the first pitch, Vinnie Pasquantino smoked a double down the right field line and Salvador Perez - celebrating his birthday - traded places with him on a double down the other line. MJ Melendez singled up the middle to put runners on the corners. Perez got cut down at the plate trying to score on an Edward Olivares chopper, but Nick Pratto then singled to plate Kansas City’s second run. Matt Duffy popped up a ball down the right field line that clanked off Elvis Andrus’s glove for a “single” that scored another run. Michael Massey took advantage of the poor defense with an RBI single of his own before Nate Eaton drew a walk to load the bases. Up stepped Witt with a chance to really break the game open. He hacked at the first pitch again and hit a 109.6 mph laser that unfortunately went right to Benintendi to end the inning. Nonetheless, the Royals forced Lynn to throw 37 pitches and ended the first inning with a 4-0 lead.

Keller promptly resumed his season-long struggles with throwing strikes by walking Gavin Sheets on four pitches to lead off the inning. Yasmani Grandal then bounced a potential double play ball to Massey, but it ate him up and bounced into center. Hanser Alberto lined a first-pitch single to put the White Sox on the board. Fortunately, Keller managed to retire the next three batters to end the threat.

The game started moving on much more rapidly after that as the pitching settled in. Starting in that second inning, 14 straight batters between both teams were retired before Alberto drew a two-out walk in the fourth. He was stranded at first base. Leading off the bottom of the fourth, Massey got a fastball middle-middle and crushed it for his first homer of the season.

Not to be outdone, Pratto deposited one in the bullpen when he received a similarly middle-middle fastball from Lynn. Melendez had walked to lead off the frame, so Pratto’s homer gave Kansas City a 7-1 lead.

Keller somehow managed to throw enough strikes to piece together five solid innings before giving way to Jose Cuas in the sixth inning. I was watching the White Sox broadcast and Jason Benetti said “he threw that Cuas-fire” which I found very amusing. In the bottom of the inning, the Royals had a bit of a rally going when Pasquantino singled and Perez doubled with two outs. Melendez hit a chopper to third that was fielded by Alberto. With Perez running towards him, he decided to try to tag Salvy rather than throw to first. This was a poor decision as Pasquantino touched home before the tag was applied, giving Kansas City an 8-1 lead. Edward Olivares saw what Massey and Pratto did and thought “hey those were fun, lemme get in on that” and crushed a leadoff shot in the seventh. 9-1 Royals.

It was smooth sailing from there as Cuas, Amir Garrett, Josh Staumont, and Taylor Clarke faced little resistance en route to four scoreless combined innings to secure a 9-1 victory.

Some nuggets:

  • Entering this game, Luis Robert was slashing .462/.588/.923 with a 14.7% K rate in May. He collected the golden sombrero with four strikeouts in four at-bats tonight.
  • For his fifth consecutive start, Keller had at least as many walks as strikeouts. At least he didn’t have more walks than strikeouts this time.
  • Vinnie Pasquantino recorded his fifth 3+ hit game of the season tonight. Only Dansby Swanson and Ronald Acuña Jr. have more such games this season.

The victory moves the Royals to 11-27. With tonight’s win, the Royals will not lose a series for just the second time this season. Weather permitting, they will go for the series win tomorrow afternoon.

Brad Keller: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 0 HR

Lance Lynn: 5.0, 9 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 2 HR

Michael Massey: 3-4, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI

Tim Anderson: 1-3, BB