Right-hander Brad Keller and the Royals would just as soon never see Milwaukee slugger Daniel Vogelbach ever again.
Keller, coming off his first career shutout, handled the rest of the Brewers’ lineup with no serious issues on Sunday afternoon. But Vogelbach single-handedly did in Keller, blasting two home runs and driving in five runs in Kansas City’s 5-3 loss at Miller Park.
The Royals had won seven of eight coming into the three-game series with the Brewers but were swept.
Vogelbach continues to demolish Kansas City. Last season, when he was with Seattle, he posted a 1.287 OPS against the Royals with two doubles and three home runs in seven games. One of those dingers came against Keller.
On Sunday, it was more of the same. With two outs in the first inning, Vogelbach belted a 3-2 four-seamer to straightaway center for a two-run homer. Statcast projected it traveled 429 feet.
Keller was left shaking his head when asked why Vogelbach keeps hurting the Royals.
“I wish I knew,” Keller said. “It’s frustrating because in our meetings before we talked about making good pitches to him. He cost us the game.”
After Vogelbach’s first homer, Keller then got in a groove, holding the Brewers hitless and scoreless over the next four innings.
“Overall I think he found a good rhythm there,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “But he didn’t have a good feel for his slider at first and didn’t get as many swings-and-misses, and that didn’t help his fastball. But then he started to after the second inning.”
Keller ran into trouble in the sixth inning, right after the Royals pushed across a run in the top of the inning to cut the lead to 2-1. Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun led off the Brewers’ half with singles.
Then came déjà vu. On another 3-2 four-seamer to Vogelbach, he smacked an opposite-field three-run homer. That pushed a 2-1 lead to 5-1. And that ended Keller’s day -- he went five-plus innings and gave up five hits and five runs while walking three and striking out four.
“Pretty frustrating,” Keller said, “especially that last inning when you’re trying to get a shutdown inning after we scored a run, and we’re down by one. The two batters, Braun and Vogelbach, I feel I made some mental errors in pitch selection. Really frustrating.”
Added Matheny, “He ran into a guy [Vogelbach] who is seeing it well.”
Salvador Perez hit a two-out two-run homer in the ninth, his eighth. Perez has a hit in all eight games since he returned from the injured list.
“Obviously, a frustrating day for the offense,” Matheny said. “We must have had close to 10 popups. You walk away from a very hitter-friendly park and just one guy walking out of here with a home run.”