Brad Keller and the Royals bullpen continue their struggles despite the offense being on fire.
Oakland began the series getting their season high in both hits and runs against Kansas City. The A’s were able to jump on the Royals early due to Keller having command issues. Keller gave up 11 including six erased runs in only four and one-third innings. Keller continues to give up free bases. He walked four in his limited work. Two of those walks came in to score. Keller has now walked at least four batters in the last four starts.
The most blaring sign of his lack of command was when he throw a ball that went over the top of the umpire to hit the backstop net. That happened twice in the game.
Royals Manager Matt Quatraro said Keller his struggles came from trying to get out of bad situations.
“I think more than anything when you start getting fatigued a little bit and pressure situations starter coming up sometimes its harder to command the ball, Quatraro said. “and I think once it happens once sometimes that kinda snowballs.”
Both of his breaking balls lack control. Keller’s breaking ball accounted for both of his home runs. In the top of the third inning, he would leave a curveball over the middle of the plate and it would be crushed 423 feet to left field. Then, to the next batter he left his slider over the middle of the plate and it would be sent 440 feet to dead center.
When Keller was pulled out of the game the bullpen did not pick him up. Every relief pitcher that came into the game gave up at least one run.
Kansas City did not give up as they were able to add runs in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings. They even left some runs on the board as they loaded the bases in three consecutive innings. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Vinnie Pasquantino nearly hit a grand slam. With no outs and the bases loaded Pasquantino hit a ball on the warning track. He would drive in one run with a sacrifice fly but this play is a good representation of the Royals. So close yet so far. The Royals’ offense had baserunners in seven out of the game’s nine innings.
Kansas City has scored at least six runs in the last four games. However, in three of those four games the pitching staff has given up double digits runs.
The biggest single hit for Kansas City came off the bat on Nick Pratto who hit his first home run of the season. He smashed a four-seam fastball 422 feet.
Royals manager, Quatraro said Pratto’s homerun was due to his ability to work the zone.
“That was a deep part of the park to hit a home run opposite field he always has a good idea of the zone,” Quatraro said.
The Royals play the A’s again Saturday night with first pitch at 6:10.