Frustrated Royals flummoxed by Giolito, Sox

KANSAS CITY — Even before White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito began dominating the rest of the league, he owned the Royals.

Coming into Saturday’s game, Giolito had won five and lost none against Kansas City with a 2.43 ERA in nine career starts.

Giolito again overmatched the Royals this time, striking out a career-high 11 — five looking — over 7 2/3 shutout innings in the White Sox 2-0 victory at Kauffman Stadium. He gave up three singles, two to Whit Merrifield, and lowered his ERA against the Royals to 2.13.

“He was the same as he always is against us,” Royals left-fielder Alex Gordon said. “I don’t know what his numbers are against us, but I think he pretty much owns us. Give him credit — he keeps doing it against us. Maybe next time will be it for us.

“He has all good pitches. I remember last year, he was kind of erratic a little bit. He wasn’t spotting his pitches. Now every pitch he throws is a good one he puts in there.”

Giolito lowered his 2019 ERA to 2.28, second best in the American League behind Minnesota’s Jake Odorizzi’s 1.96.

All the support Giolito needed came in the second inning when Eloy Jimenez powered a high four-seamer from right-hander Brad Keller the opposite way into the Royals’ bullpen for a two-run homer.

“We tried to go down and away, and it just kinda rode up on me,” Keller said. “He got some good wood on it, and it kept carrying.

“It sounded like he got it, but then I saw Whit tracking it. I asked Whit later. He just said it kept drifting out further and further. It’s just one of those times he got good wood on it and hit it out.”

The 20 previous hits against Keller over his last three starts were all singles. And the home run snapped a 42-inning homerless streak for Keller.

The Royals’ right-hander went a season-high eight innings, giving up only five hits. He walked just one and struck out four.

“Feel and command, especially my fastball command, has been way better the last three starts,” Keller said. “As long as I can get that going and then pitch the slider off of that, I can really become back to what I was last year as far as just going after guys with my fastball.”

Royals manager Ned Yost was ejected for arguing balls and strikes with home-plate umpire Bruce Dreckman in the sixth inning. It was Yost’s second ejection this season.

Yost said he was most upset by two third-strike calls on slugger Jorge Soler, who was called out on strikes three times.

“Bruce wasn’t missing a bunch of calls that upset me,” Yost said. “When these two [pitchers] are on their game, you’ve gotta be on your game because we need to take advantage of every opportunity that we get. If [Giolito] doesn’t give us an opportunity, you take your hat off to him. But sometimes he makes pitches outside the zone that are called strikes and you don’t get that chance.”