Keller extends streak as Royals eke out win

August 13th, 2020

One can’t start a season much better than Royals right-hander .

But Keller’s second win of the season didn’t exactly come easy. Closer got out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam by getting former Royal Christian Colón to roll into a double play, preserving a pulsating 5-4 win over the Reds at Great American Ball Park on Wednesday.

“[My heart rate] got a little elevated, I’ll admit,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “These masks, though, do a good job of hiding how you’re feeling at the time. But yeah, Rosie had it all the way.

“I know you’re tired of me talking about how proud I am of these guys, and how they keep coming. But that’s so enjoyable to watch and be a part of it. So much clean baseball today. That turn at the end put an exclamation point on it all."

Rosenthal walked the bases loaded in the ninth -- his first three walks of the season. But Rosenthal got Colón -- who was responsible for Kansas City's game-winning RBI in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series -- to bounce a grounder to third baseman , who started the twin killing and got a terrific quick turn from second baseman .

And with that, Rosenthal pumped his fist in the air.

“I mean, I have definitely experienced that outcome too many times,” Rosenthal said, smiling. “If you just watch that inning, it was a microcosm of how our games have gone lately, and how hard we fight.”

Royals catcher , who had three hits and drove in three runs, recalled peeking over at the Cincinnati dugout during the hectic ninth and catching the eye of former Royal Mike Moustakas.

“This was like a playoff game,” Perez said. “I looked at Moose and said, ‘We’ve been through this before.’”

Keller, making just his second start of 2020 after returning from the injured list, tossed six more shutout innings. He allowed two singles and three walks while striking out three.

Keller has thrown 11 consecutive scoreless innings to start the season.

And this time it wasn’t as routine as the linescore would indicate. Keller worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the first.

In the third, a leadoff walk from Keller was wiped out when Nick Castellanos hit into a double play.

And in the fifth, the Reds had two on and none out. But Keller secured a popout, then induced another double-play ball from Shogo Akiyama.

“I didn’t have my best fastball command,” Keller said. “But I threw a lot of sinkers, and I threw some good changeups that got me out of some jams. That pitch to Akiyama was a changeup, and that got me a double play.”

Keller left with a 5-0 lead.

That lead came mostly at the hands of Perez, who drove in a run in the first on a fielder’s choice, then homered in the third and doubled in a run in the sixth.

The Royals’ bullpen, so effective all season and the third best in the American League with a 3.00 ERA, finally had a hiccup Wednesday.

Given a 5-0 lead in the seventh, , who has been plagued by the home run ball this season, allowed two more of them.

On his first pitch, Kennedy served up a homer to Jesse Winker. Kennedy walked the next batter then hung an 0-2 slider to Freddy Galvis. Kennedy has allowed six homers this season.

relieved Kennedy, and the latter hadn’t given up a homer in 45 innings. But he did just that to Josh VanMeter, and suddenly, it was 5-4.

got into trouble in the eighth, putting runners on first and third with one out. But he got two huge strikeouts to end the threat, both on curveballs.

“When Josh has that curveball working, and with the fastball jumping out of his hands,” Matheny said, “he’s tough to handle.”