Royals general manager Dayton Moore told MLB.com last week that whether the Royals buy or sell before the Aug. 31 Trade Deadline would largely be determined by how they perform in the coming week.
The Royals, after Monday’s 9-3 loss to the Cardinals, are 1-3 since Moore made that comment and at 11-18 sit in the cellar of the American League Central. The Royals are also 0-17 when trailing after six innings.
Here are three ups and three downs from Monday night:
Soler breaks out: Royals designated hitter Jorge Soler had shown signs of breaking out of a prolonged slump during the recent homestand, when he delivered two doubles and a homer with six RBIs. And Soler blasted a three-run homer in the sixth inning, jumping on a 1-1 fastball and smashing it at 109 mph and a projected 443 feet, per Statcast. That was Soler’s seventh home run this season. He also singled in the eighth.
Keller’s escape acts: Royals starter Brad Keller got off to a rough start, walking two and hitting Matt Carpenter, loading the bases with one out. But Keller did a terrific job limiting the damage. He gave up a sacrifice fly to Paul DeJong, but then got Yadier Molina to fly out, giving up just the one run.
Keller got in a jam again in the third inning, giving up one-out singles to Brad Miller and Paul Goldschmidt. But Keller struck Carpenter on a 2-2 slider and got DeJong to pop out.
Mondesi vs. the slider: Royals fans know of shortstop Adalberto Mondesi’s recent struggles all too well. And Mondesi’s biggest issue has been against sliders. Entering the game, Mondesi was hitting .118 this season on at-bats that ended on sliders (3-for-32) with 17 strikeouts — and his average exit velocity on sliders was 84 mph. But Mondesi ripped an 0-2 slider from Jack Flaherty in the third inning at 98 mph to the second baseman — it resulted in a groundout, but perhaps a positive sign that Mondesi is beginning to recognize the slider spin.
Missed chance: Keller had done a great job of holding the Cardinals down, giving up just one run and three singles through four innings. But he made a fielding mistake in the fifth that led to St. Louis blowing the game open. The Cardinals had runners on the corners and none out when Keller threw a 1-2 fastball that tied up Goldschmidt, who slapped a one-hopper back toward the mound. The ball bounced off Keller’s glove for an infield hit, scoring a run. If Keller had fielded it, the Royals likely would have gotten an out at home. If Keller had let the ball go past him, it could have been a routine 6-3 double play. Instead, it opened the gates for a five-run Cardinals fifth, giving them a 6-0 lead.
Holland can’t put out the fire: Greg Holland is one of the Royals’ relievers — Scott Barlow is the other — who manager Mike Matheny trusts to bring in with runners on base. Entering the game, Holland had come in with 12 inherited runners and allowed only four to score, the third best percentage in all of baseball. But Holland came in with the bases loaded and none out in the fifth and gave up two doubles, hit two batters, and allowed all three inherited runners to score.
Giving it right back: The Royals had pulled back, 6-3, on Soler’s homer in the sixth, and might have felt some momentum. But reliever Chance Adams, whom the Royals acquired from the Yankees last December, made his Royals debut in the bottom of the sixth and was not impressive. Adams immediately gave up a single to Brad Miller and then surrendered a no-doubt homer to Goldschmidt, and the momentum was gone.