Royals put winning streak on line in rematch with White Sox

MLB

Brad Keller has never pitched in the majors on his birthday. He’ll get that chance Tuesday as the Kansas City Royals host the Chicago White Sox in the second game of a four-game series.

The closest the Royals right-hander came to a birthday workday was in his rookie year of 2018, when he was scheduled to pitch against the New York Yankees, but the game was rained out and he earned a win the next day.

“It’s going to be exciting,” Keller, drafted in the eighth round in 2013, said Monday of starting Tuesday on his 26th birthday. “It’s bizarre. You’d think with a July birthday, at some point a start would land on your birthday, but this is the first time.”

The Royals are hoping for their sixth quality start in seven games. Mike Minor turned in his second straight quality outing, allowing two runs on just three hits over six innings as the Royals defeated the White Sox 4-3 Monday night for their sixth straight victory.

The White Sox will counter Keller (7-9, 5.84 ERA) with right-hander Dylan Cease (7-6, 4.21 ERA).

Keller seems to have turned things around lately, and he’s excited to get another chance to prove it.

“I think I’ve made mechanical adjustments that have allowed me to go out there and have a little bit more confidence,” Keller said. “Earlier in the season, my mechanics would be there for a pitch, and then they wouldn’t be.

“We found some things that were noticeably different, and I’ve been able to repeat my delivery. I’ve had good results with it. I’m starting to get that consistency with my delivery.

“Going out there with confidence in my mechanics has allowed me to compete. When things go south, I feel like I can made adjustments and be better. Early in the season, I didn’t have faith in myself.”

It has been a slow transition, but his past three starts have been among his four longest of his season. In those three appearances, he went 1-1 with a 2.61 ERA over 20 2/3 innings.

Keller is 1-2 with a 5.65 ERA this season against the White Sox. He is 5-5 with a 3.69 ERA all-time against the White Sox in 15 games (12 starts).

Cease has lost his past three decisions, pitching to a 6.00 ERA over four starts.

Cease will be making his third start this season against Kansas City. He has two no-decisions despite a 0.87 ERA. He is 2-1 with a 3.13 ERA in six career starts against the Royals.

The best news the White Sox got Monday was the season debut of Eloy Jimenez, who had been sidelined since sustaining a left pectoral tendon tear during spring training.

Jimenez, who had hit .289 with two homers and four RBIs in 12 minor league rehab games, went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in the series opener at Kansas City.

“I saw the ball good, I was just super excited,” he said postgame. “I think I’m going to be back (to top form) soon, just a couple of games. I’m going to be there.”

Chicago manager Tony La Russa said, “I thought his at-bats were competitive. Twice he chased a ball out of the strike zone, so that’s probably the biggest thing, just to control his aggressiveness. Other than that, I was impressed with what I saw.”

–Field Level Media

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