Keller won't dwell on mistakes in loss to Jays

Royals right-hander yields 3 costly home runs off sliders

July 30th, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- Throughout Royals right-hander 's recent hot streak -- a 1.33 ERA in his previous four starts -- his slider has been a money pitch to go with his mid-90s four-seamer.

That slider betrayed Keller on Monday night in the Royals’ 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays at Kauffman Stadium.

Keller, who had won his previous four decisions, breezed through the first four innings, giving up just two singles. But then, Keller hung a couple of sliders, the first to Teoscar Hernandez, who ripped his 15th home run with two out in the fifth, tying the score at 2.

In the sixth, Keller left an 0-1 slider middle-middle to Randal Grichuk, who smoked a two-run shot to left, giving the Jays a 3-1 lead.

The Royals tied it at 3 in the bottom of the sixth on a bad-hop two-run single off third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s glove.

But Keller hung another slider on a 2-1 pitch to Cavan Biggio, who lofted it into the right-field seats, a solo shot that gave the Blue Jays a 4-3 lead.

“The one that Hernandez hit was middle-middle,” Keller said. “The one to Grichuk backed up on me. And the one to Biggio I was trying to go low but it stayed up. Just three hangers that they put good swings on and took advantage of.

“I felt in control the whole time and even minus those three pitches I felt really good. Mistakes got me.”

Keller wound up going seven-plus innings and he didn’t walk a batter while striking out five. He said afterward that he still believes he’s on top of his game.

“It’s really frustrating that [mistakes] cost you a game,” Keller said. “I’ll try not to focus on those and build on the good stuff, and look forward to the next start.”

Somewhat lost in the loss was yet another strong outing by reliever Scott Barlow, who has given up just one run in his last five outings. On Monday, Barlow came in with a runner on third and none out in the eighth.

Barlow got three strikeouts sandwiched around a walk, and got out of the inning with no runs scored. He looked much more like the dominant pitcher he was at times earlier this season, mixing his 94-95 mph fastball with a swing-and-miss curveball.

“I’ve been a lot better with locating my fastball,” Barlow said. “I’m also getting the offspeed where I want it with two strikes. It’s just executing. That’s the main thing every time. As long as you execute, things go your way.”

Offensively, the Royals managed just five hits off Blue Jays starter Thomas Pannone, who effectively changed speeds to make his 89-90 mph four-seamer appear faster.

“He just pitched a good game,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “Simple as that.”

The Royals now are 10-7 since the All-Star break.