The ability to come from behind is important, but getting out to a quick start certainly works, too.
That’s a formula the Kansas City Royals will try to use as they go for their fourth series win of the season on Sunday when they host the Baltimore Orioles in the final game of a four-game series. Baltimore’s Dean Kremer (0-1, 6.23 ERA) is scheduled to face Kansas City’s Brad Keller (1-7, 4.19) in a clash of right-handers.
The Royals won the first two games of the series on Thursday and Friday.
On Saturday, Kansas City jumped out to a 3-0 lead after four innings, and led 3-1 after five innings before the Orioles came from behind for a 6-4 victory.
Tyler Nevin’s three-run home run in the sixth inning put the Orioles ahead to stay.
“We just locked it in and picked up the intensity in that inning,” Nevin said. “I feel like the last 30 at-bats I’m feeling really comfortable. The numbers aren’t quite there because of the slower start.”
The Royals have been scoring a lot of early runs in their past four games. They have scored 22 runs (with a plus-14 run differential) in the first five innings during the stretch, hitting .370 with an OPS of 1.110. In the previous nine games, they scored just three runs in the first five innings (a minus-29 run differential), hitting .160 (with a .405 OPS).
“It’s huge for our pitching staff,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said after Saturday’s loss. “With a little bit of breathing room, they don’t have to feel like they have to be so perfect.”
The next starter to hope for early run support will be Keller. He’s lost his past five decisions, and the Royals have lost his past six starts. Kansas City scored a combined 16 runs in those games.
Keller missed the Orioles during Kansas City’s trip to Baltimore in early May, but he’s been great against the Orioles in his career. He’s 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in two career starts.
In his most recent outing, a 7-0 loss to Toronto on Tuesday, Keller allowed three runs in six innings. The problem was the Royals were shut out for the second straight game. That was the Royals’ 15th loss in 18 games, even with the quality start by Keller.
“It’s just finding a way,” Keller said of his team’s struggles. “It’s a long season. We’ve still got tons of games left. We’re going through a rough patch right now. It happens to everybody in every season, and whether it’s a long rough patch or short one is up to us.
“It’s like with anything, keep grinding and keep going. Head down and keep working. I don’t think you can say anything about anyone’s work ethic here. Everyone works really hard at their craft, and it’s just a matter of us putting it together on the field.”
Kremer has never faced the Royals in his three-year career. He made his 2022 debut against the Cleveland Guardians on June 5. He allowed three runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings.
“It was a little shaky in the first,” Kremer said after the game. “But after that, kind of settled in and felt like I knew what I was doing after that.”
–Field Level Media