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Best Keller: Royals Ace Masterful in Split Doubleheader with Reds

Following a road-trip to Cincinnati and Minnesota, the Royals returned to Kauffman Stadium to play against…well…Cincinnati and Minnesota. The Reds were coming to play a return two-game series with the Royals after the exciting series last week. The Reds had their past weekend series with Pittsburgh postponed after an unnamed Reds player tested positive for COVID-19, putting this series in doubt. As a precaution, the game on Tuesday was pushed back to Wednesday and the two games would be played as a doubleheader. As with all doubleheaders this season, both games would be seven innings.

For the second time in a week, Brad Keller was masterful against Cincinnati, nearly going the distance but came out of the game with one out left to get. Trevor Rosenthal would finish the game. Trevor Bauer was even better for the Reds in the nightcap. Bauer had a much better outing this time around at the K, now pitching for the other team from Ohio. Last summer, Bauer, then a pitcher for Cleveland, threw a ball over the centerfield fence in frustration after a big inning by the Royals. Slugger had some fun with Bauer in pregame warm-ups.

It was also a homecoming for Mike Moustakas, who was activated off the Injured List before the games today. The Royals honored him and his accomplishments as a Royal before Game 1.

Wednesday Game 1: Royals 4, Reds 0 (7)

Brad Keller made his third start of the season and his second straight against Cincinnati. Luis Castillo started for the Reds. It was his second straight start against the Royals after pitching against them on Tuesday last week.

The Royals got to Castillo early in this one. Whit Merrifield opened the game by hitting a dribbler to shortstop, but Joey Votto couldn’t field the throw from Freddy Galvis. Merrifield was on by an error. Nicky Lopez grounded out, getting Merrifield to second. Hunter Dozier then walked, putting runners on first and second. Up came Jorge Soler, who had to be happy to be back after a very tough road trip. Forcing a full-count, Soler ripped a double up the left-field line, scoring Merrifield and putting Dozier on third. Ryan O’Hearn then hit a single to right, scoring both runners and giving the Royals an early 3-0 lead.

In the fourth inning, Adalberto Mondesi singled on a smash that hit Joey Votto’s glove. He stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. With the infield in, Merrifield singled on a grounder to right, scoring Mondesi and giving KC a 4-0 lead.

While all this was going on, Brad Keller was dominating in the road halves. At the end of five innings, he had given up just two walks and no hits. Because it was a seven-inning contest, Keller would not have been eligible for a no-hitter, but it was still fun to think about.

Jorge Soler led off the bottom of the fifth with a bloop single to left. Brett Phillips came on to pinch-run for him. This was probably done to get Soler some extra rest before the 2nd game of the doubleheader. However, both O’Hearn and Maikel Franco struck out. Phillips tried to steal, but the Reds pitched out and gunned down Phillips at second.

Tucker Barnhart hit a single for the Reds’ first hit of the game, but he was erased on a double play hit by Votto. Nicholas Castellanos hit a grounder to Lopez and Keller had completed six scoreless innings.

Brad Keller went out to go for the complete-game shutout. He walked Winker for the third time but got Eugenio Suarez to ground into a double play. Moustakas came up and hit a solid single to right-center, his first hit at The K as a visiting player. Shogo Akiyama followed it up with a single of his own. It was all of a sudden a save situation. Mike Matheny came out and called on Trevor Rosenthal to come in and close the game out. Rosenthal struck out Josh VanMeter on four pitches to seal the shutout win for the Royals.

With the win, the Royals moved to 10-14. Brad Keller went 6.2 scoreless innings giving up just three hits, three walks, and five strikeouts. He has yet to allow a run this season and is 3-0 in three starts. Trevor Rosenthal picked up his sixth save of the season.

Player of the game: Ryan O’Hearn
Pitcher of the game: Brad Keller

Wednesday Game 2: Reds 5, Royals 0 (7)

Matt Harvey made his Royals debut and his first start at Kauffman Stadium since Game 1 of the 2015 World Series. He was the ace of the New York Mets at the time. It was also Harvey’s first major league start since July 18, 2019, with the Los Angeles Angels. Trevor Bauer started for the Reds.

Harvey looked good in the first inning, recording a pair of strikeouts, including Jesse Winker, who provided some feedback on Harvey’s fastball that found the zone for the punch-out:

In the second inning, Harvey gave up a leadoff walk to Mike Moustakas but got out of the inning with no damage. Harvey got two outs in the third before Castellanos singled and Winker, who had given him a thumbs up in his previous at-bat, took him deep. 2-0 Cincinnati. Suarez followed up with a solo shot to center to make it 3-0. Harvey got the last out, but the damage was done.

Meanwhile, the Royals had no answer for Bauer, who only needed four pitches to get through the first inning. By the end of the third inning, Bauer had a perfect outing going with four strikeouts.

Jesse Hahn would also make his season debut, getting the ball for the fourth inning. Despite a hit batter, Hahn had a scoreless outing. The Royals finally put some pressure on Bauer and the Reds in the home half of the fourth. Merrifield drew a leadoff walk, stole second, and later in the inning stole third with one out. Dozier would strikeout, and after a walk to Soler, Ryan O’Hearn came up as the tying run. He flew out to right. That would be the only time the Royals would get a runner to third.

Greg Holland would pitch the fifth inning and promptly give up a home run to Castellanos. It was now 4-0. Holland would get two outs before Gabe Speier came in who got the final out. In the fifth inning with two outs, Adalberto Mondesi broke through, getting the first and only hit off Bauer. However, Meibrys Viloria struck out on three pitches, ending whatever threat the Royals had.

The Reds would add another home run in the top of the sixth. This time it was by catcher Curt Casali off of Speier. The Reds now led comfortably at 5-0 with Bauer dominating the Royals hitters. Josh Staumont came out with a runner on to get out of the sixth. Staumont added two more strikeouts to his impressive total. Oh, and he hit 102 on the speed gun on three pitches, setting a new high speed mark for all pitchers this season:

With two outs in the seventh inning, Maikel Franco worked a walk, but Brett Phillips lined out to end the game, completing the shutout for Bauer and the Reds. Bauer then revealed the shirt he wore under his jersey, a reference to his outing last year.

With the loss, the Royals fell to 10-15. They went 2-2 against the Reds this season. It was hard to pick a player of the game for this one when the Royals’ offense was nearly completely ineffective against the Reds starter. I went with the guy that had the only hit of the game for KC.

Player of the game: Adalberto Mondesi
Pitcher of the game: Josh Staumont

Up Next

The Royals will play the final leg of the Minnesota Twins/Cincinnati Reds tour with the Twins coming to Kansas City for the weekend. The Royals will then travel across the state to play the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.


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