After one of the best starts in team history, the Kansas City Royals have lost five straight games to fall out of first place in the American League Central. That included losing a four-game series at home to the Cleveland Indians for the first time in franchise history.
Things won’t get any easier for the Royals on Friday as the Chicago White Sox arrive in Kansas City for a three-game series. The Royals will turn to Brad Keller to get things going the right direction. The White Sox will hand the ball to Carlos Rodon.
“We take the positives from the wins and learn something and move forward,” Kansas City manager Mike Matheny said after the sweep at the hands of the Indians. “We like to do the same with the losses, but sometimes it’s a lot easier to talk about it than to put it into play.
“We’ve got a lot of baseball to go this season. It’s not going to be the last tough run of things not going the way you want them to. It’s just how quick we rebound. We need some guys to be able to help us take the next step.”
The right-handed Keller (2-3, 8.06 ERA) has struggled so far this season, and in his most recent outing on Sunday against the Minnesota Twins, he gave up seven runs (only two earned) in 4 1/3 innings and lowered his ERA by almost a full run. If he can figure out his struggles, he might help the Royals sort out their own.
His manager said his teammates provided little help on Sunday.
“There were a couple momentum plays that we needed to make, could have potentially changed the way they were going,” Matheny said. “But that’s kind of the name of the game. You come in today and feel like this is going to be just one of those tough, close games we’re going to have to play really clean baseball and take advantage of mistakes.
“They took advantage of the mistakes.”
Keller has a 4-4 record and a 3.62 ERA in 13 career games (10 starts) against the White Sox.
Chicago, the preseason favorites to win the division, have gotten to this point with some of their offensive stars on the injured list. Outfielder Luis Robert was the latest to land on the list this week and is expected to miss at least three months with a Grade 3 strain of his right hip flexor.
One of the reasons for the White Sox have done so well is Rodon, who is 4-0 with a 0.72 ERA. Rodon threw one of three no-hitters in the big leagues this year in an 8-0 defeat of the Cleveland Indians on April 15. On the season, he has allowed just two earned runs in 25 innings and has 36 strikeouts.
“It definitely feels good,” Rodon said after his last start, in which he fanned a career-best 12 on April 29 in a 3-1 win over the Detroit Tigers. “I put a lot of work into doing what we’ve done thus far. Just try to keep building to the next start.
“I think it just built off spring training, the work we put in the offseason, during spring it just carried over.”
The left-hander is 2-3 with a 3.69 ERA in seven career starts against the Royals.
–Field Level Media