Well, it wasn’t all bad I guess. The Royals did score some runs. But as I watched them finish out the game I had only one thought, “Baseball is back...”
Let’s go ahead and get the negative out of the way first. People are going to talk about Brad Keller’s start and say it was a positive one. Maybe they’re right in the sense that there were some flashes of things you’d like to see from the big righty, such as six strikeouts and no home runs. However, he also walked four in his 4.2 innings. Some will be tempted to argue that he clearly didn’t have it anymore in the fifth when he walked three straight before being removed. To that, I first ask whether it’s considered a good sign when the starter can only go four innings before he’s gassed. Then I’d also point out that he was incredibly wild for the entire game.
He almost beaned Byron Buxton no fewer than three times and one of those would have hit his head. He did hit Michael A. Taylor. He ended up throwing only 50 strikes in 88 pitches. His curveball looked good, but he had no idea where the sweeper or the changeup were going at any point.
The bullpen didn’t look much better, either. Amir Garrett, Dylan Coleman, and Jose Cuas each gave up runs; Garrett and Coleman both gave up dingers, and Coleman allowed three runs. Scott Barlow finally appeared in the series and walked the first batter he faced though he did have an otherwise uneventful ninth inning while trailing by four.
On the other hand, the four runs the Royals scored would have been sufficient to win either of the previous games. Edward Olivares did most of the heavy lifting, breaking the scoreless streak with a solo home run in the second inning and also getting the Royals’ first hit with a runner in scoring position to cap the scoring off in the ninth.
Salvador Perez continued his hot hitting to start the season when he collected a double to lead off the fourth. Matt Duffy had a stellar Royals debut with a pair of hits, including a two-run shot in the seventh that almost made it into a contest again.
Still, plenty of opportunities were missed as well. MJ Melendez struck out three more times, giving him five so far, with only two walks and no hits to counter that. Bobby Witt Jr. is also still looking for his first hit but struck out twice. One of those was in the bottom of the third when he whiffed badly at a 3-2 pitch with men at second and third and only one out. According to mlb.com, that whiff accounted for a -8.7% win probability, one of the biggest momentum swings in the game.
It just was not a good series for the Royals.
The good news is that they get to start fresh tomorrow. The Toronto Blue Jays and old friend Whit Merrifield are flying into town. They’re 1-2 after facing the Cardinals for their opening series. Brady Singer will take the mound for the series opener tomorrow night. He will be opposed by former Twin Jose Berríos. Let’s hope he doesn’t keep that Twins momentum rolling.