Royals

Familiar formula for Royals leads to loss in series opener with Angels

Royals’ Brad Keller sees progress in loss to Angels

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Brad Keller talks with reporters after a 5-2 loss to the LA Angels at Angel Stadium on May 17, 2019. Keller had struggled with command in recent outings. Despite 5 walks, he felt like he was getting back on track.
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Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Brad Keller talks with reporters after a 5-2 loss to the LA Angels at Angel Stadium on May 17, 2019. Keller had struggled with command in recent outings. Despite 5 walks, he felt like he was getting back on track.

The Royals started their first West Coast trip of the season, but Friday night’s game didn’t exactly play out in an unfamiliar fashion. Starting pitcher Brad Keller went from showing flashes of his handcuffing arsenal to not being able to locate pitches. The Royals’ offense put itself in position to score runs, but didn’t get enough, and they spent the majority of the game playing catch-up.

The Royals stranded nine runners on base while going 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position and lost 5-2 in the first game of a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels in front of an announced 43,444 at Angel Stadium on Friday night.

The Royals’ Whit Merrifield, who started in center field in back-to-back games, had two hits, while first baseman Ryan O’Hearn drove in a pair of runs and walked twice in the loss.

Keller, who tied for the team lead in wins last season, hasn’t earned a win since April 12. He’d walked 32 batters in 52 innings entering the night, including nine in his previous 10 1/3 innings. Keller walked five more on Friday night, three in a three-run second inning.

“After that second inning, I felt back to normal,” Keller said. “I gave up a run in that third inning on four balls kinda perfectly-placed, I guess. After that second inning, I felt good and able to throw strikes and get back to who I am.”

Keller (2-5) getting bogged down in the second inning could have spelled doom for the Royals (15-30) and their already heavily-taxed bullpen.

The recent workload for the relievers got so overwhelming that infielder Chris Owings made his major-league pitching debut and pitched more than one inning in a 16-1 loss on Thursday to the Texas Rangers. Prior to Friday’s game, the Royals optioned third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez and recalled right-handed pitcher Heath Fillmyer to provide an additional relief option.

However, Keller pushed his way through 5 2/3 innings. He gave up four runs, three in the second inning, and kept the Royals within arm’s reach when he exited.

Keller allowed the first four batters of the second inning to reach base, three via walks. His third walk, a bases-loaded four-pitch free pass issued to former Royal Brian Goodwin, forced in the game’s first run with no outs.

David Fletcher’s tailor-made double-play ball to shortstop helped eliminate the potential for a outrageously-big inning for the Angels (21-23) even as a run scored. However, Tommy La Stella added a two-out RBI single to give the hosts three runs on just two hits in the inning.

In the bottom of the third after the Royals had stranded two men on base, back-to-back singles by the Angels’ Andrelton Simmons (infield single) and Albert Pujols put runners on the corners, and Kole Calhoun’s grounder to second base brought in the Angels’ fourth run.

“He was pounding the strike zone, other than that second inning,” Royals catcher Martin Maldonado said of Keller. “You take that second away, he might be pitching in the seventh or eighth. He did a pretty good job. The sinker was moving like it was earlier in the year, got a lot of ground balls, that’s the way he is.”

Angels starting pitcher Matt Harvey allowed two runs in five innings, though both runs charged to him scored after he’d been removed from the game.

In a start against the Royals in Kansas City on April 28, Harvey held the Royals to one run on two hits in seven innings.

Friday night, Harvey worked around men on base, but also featured swing-and-miss stuff. He struck out six, but also walked four and gave up four hits as he ran his pitch count up to 91 for the game without having recorded an out in the sixth inning.

When Harvey gave way to the bullpen in the sixth, the Royals capitalized on a run-scoring opportunity for the first time all night. After a double steal by Adalberto Mondesi and Alex Gordon put runners on second and third with two outs, O’Hearn squeezed a single through the infield that drove in both runners and cut the deficit in half.

The Angels’ tandem of future Hall of Famers, Mike Trout and Pujols, combined to put an insurance run on the board in the seventh. Trout singled to start the inning, and he stole second after Royals reliever Scott Barlow struck out Shohei Ohtani and Simmons. Pujols shot a single into left field that allowed Trout, who was running with two outs, to score on the play.

Aside from the two runs in the sixth, the Royals offense couldn’t piece together much. They’ve now 2 for 27 with runners in scoring position over the past three games.

“Right now we’re just not driving in runs,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “It’s not anything that you can point your finger at. It’s just the ups and downs of the game. You know, you get hot. Then sometimes you just get cold. Right now, we’re a little on the cold side.”

Angels 5, Royals 2

Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Merrifield cf

5

0

2

0

0

2

.290

Lopez 2b

5

0

1

0

0

1

.375

Mondesi dh

3

1

0

0

1

1

.277

Gordon lf

3

1

1

0

1

1

.290

Dozier 3b

3

0

0

0

1

1

.304

Soler rf

4

0

1

0

0

2

.254

O’Hearn 1b

2

0

1

2

2

1

.194

Maldonado c

3

0

0

0

1

0

.186

Owings ss

4

0

0

0

0

1

.138



Los Angeles

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

La Stella 2b

4

0

1

1

0

1

.299

Cozart 3b

0

0

0

0

0

0

.136

Trout cf

3

1

2

0

1

0

.294

Ohtani dh

4

0

1

0

0

2

.289

Simmons ss

4

1

1

0

0

1

.305

Pujols 1b

3

1

2

1

1

0

.241

Calhoun rf

4

1

1

1

0

1

.238

Lucroy c

3

1

0

0

1

2

.262

Goodwin lf

2

0

0

1

2

0

.310

Fletcher 3b-2b

4

0

2

0

0

0

.305



Kansas City

000

002

000

2

6

0

Los Angeles

031

000

10x

5

10

0

LOB—Kansas City 9, Los Angeles 7. 2B—Gordon (13), Trout (9), Calhoun (9). RBIs—O’Hearn 2 (16), La Stella (26), Pujols (23), Calhoun (25), Goodwin (15). SB—Mondesi 2 (17), Gordon (3), Trout (6). CS—Merrifield (5), Fletcher (1). DP—Kansas City 2, Los Angeles 1.

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

ERA

Keller, L, 2-5

5 2/3

7

4

4

5

3

4.66

Lovelady

1/3

0

0

0

0

0

3.55

Barlow

1

2

1

1

0

3

2.11

Peralta

1

1

0

0

0

1

6.20

Los Angeles

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

ERA

Harvey, W, 2-3

5

4

2

2

4

6

6.35

Anderson, H, 3

1

1

0

0

1

2

3.14

Buttrey, H, 9

1

0

0

0

0

2

0.82

Bedrosian, H, 4

1

1

0

0

1

0

2.95

Robles, S, 5-5

1

0

0

0

0

0

3.60

Harvey pitched to 2 batters in the 6th. Inherited runners-scored—Lovelady 2-0, Anderson 2-2. WP—Bedrosian 2. T—3:17. A—43,444 (45,050).

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Lynn Worthy covers the Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball for The Star. A native of the Northeast, he’s covered high school, collegiate and professional sports for The Lowell Sun, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Allentown Morning Call and The Salt Lake Tribune. He’s won awards for sports features and sports columns.
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