Brad Keller entered Thursday’s series opener against the White Sox looking for a rebound after a shaky Opening Day start. But another long and laborious first inning hurt the Royals’ right-hander for the second start in a row.
Keller allowed back-to-back home runs in the first inning of the Royals’ 6-0 loss at Guaranteed Rate Field, and was tagged for four runs in 3 1/3 innings overall in the White Sox home opener. The short start was a continuation of his struggles from Opening Day, when Keller allowed six runs in 1 1/3 innings.
After a two-hour, 12-minute rain delay, Keller got two quick outs in the bottom of the first, but was tagged for a double by reigning American League MVP José Abreu. Keller proceeded to allow back-to-back home runs to Yoán Moncada and Yermin Mercedes.
Both home runs were on sliders that Keller seemed to want down and away. Instead, both started up out of his hand and stayed over the plate. Moncada took his 421 feet over the left-center field wall.
Mercedes took his 485 feet.
Keller was able to settle down after allowing his fourth run in the second inning. His last four outs were on the ground — where Keller thrives with his sinker — but the damage was done. He exited with one out in the fourth inning after throwing 69 pitches.
Unlike his last start, the Royals weren’t able to back Keller up at the plate. White Sox starter Lance Lynn pitched his second career big league shutout — his first came in 2014 for the Cardinals and then-manager Mike Matheny — and he had a perfect game going until Salvador Perez’s infield single in the fifth inning. Lynn thrived off strikeouts (11) and flyouts (11) while holding the Royals to five singles.