KANSAS CITY — After possibly the best-pitched game of the season for the Royals, manager Ned Yost found a unique way to describe the uniquely sharp showing from his staff.
“It was pretty super-duper,” Yost said.
Rookie Brad Keller and the bullpen combined for a three-hit shutout against the Angels on Monday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium, fueling a 2-0 victory in a makeup of an April 15 game (Jackie Robinson Day) postponed by frigid weather.
Keller went seven strong — allowing just two hits and one ball to reach the outfield — in his first career win as a starter. No Angels batter advanced past first base against the right-hander.
“Just banging strikes, on the attack, everything that you want,” Yost said of Keller’s dominant start. “Just a great pitching performance. Never was in any real trouble and had the game in total control.”
Keller has been sharp in all five of his starts with Kansas City, but this one had career highs in innings, strikeouts and pitches (109 overall, 67 strikes). His ability to keep pitches down and where he wanted carried him past a powerful Angels lineup.
“I was able to keep the ball down, keep them off-balance,” Keller said. “Slider felt really good today, and made some adjustments in the bullpen prior to this game, and it felt really good.”
Joining Mel Stottlemyre Jr. in 1990, Keller is just the second Royals starter to throw at least seven shutout innings while allowing two or fewer hits within his first five Major League starts.
Tim Hill came on to relieve Keller in the eighth but was pulled after hitting David Fletcher with a pitch. Kevin McCarthy came on after Hill, and found himself in trouble as Fletcher stole second and advanced to third on a groundout.
With Chris Young at the plate and the speedy Fletcher on third with just one out, McCarthy struck out Young on four pitches. After getting Ian Kinsler to ground out one pitch later, McCarthy escaped with the lead intact.
“Mac did a great job … big pitches with the runner on third, to strike out Young and then to get Kinsler, who’s always been a thorn in our side,” Yost said. “It was a great job.”
The one run of support Keller received before exiting the game came in the fourth, when Hunter Dozier led off the inning with a double over the head of left fielder Justin Upton on the first pitch. Lucas Duda singled Dozier home in the next at-bat for the game’s first run.
Kansas City did more damage late in the eighth, when Adalberto Mondesi walked and raced to third on a perfectly executed hit-and-run with Whit Merrifield at the plate. Rosell Herrera knocked Mondesi in shortly after, marking a career-high three-hit game for the recently added Royal.