One of the quirks of the 2022 baseball schedule is repeat matchups with little time in between.
The Kansas City Royals and the Minnesota Twins are offering a good example, as they will square off Friday in Minneapolis for the second contest of a four-game series, part of seven meetings in 10 days.
The Royals will send Brad Keller (1-4, 3.20 ERA) to the mound to face Bailey Ober (1-1, 2.55) in a clash of right-handers.
Kansas City snapped a six-game losing streak on Thursday with a 3-2, come-from-behind victory over Minnesota. The Royals had just three baserunners through seven scoreless innings against Twins starter Devin Smeltzer. However, Bobby Witt Jr.’s RBI single capped a three-run, two-out rally off Tyler Duffey in the eighth.
The Twins had the bases loaded with no outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, then runners on first and third with two outs in the ninth, but Scott Barlow kept them from scoring each time.
The Royals and Twins had been heading in opposite directions since they started their first series last week. Entering play Thursday, the Twins had won six of their past seven games.
In his latest outing, on Saturday against the Twins, Keller battled through seven innings. It was the fourth time this year he lasted that long, matching his season high, but it was not an easy outing. He threw 97 pitches and gave up four runs on five hits. He walked three and struck out four as the Royals lost 9-2.
“I felt my stuff was pretty good tonight,” Keller said after the game. “I didn’t use a four-seam until later on in the game, which is good. I really liked my slider tonight. I got some big outs on changeups as well, so I felt pretty good about my stuff.
“(The Twins) have a lot of power, so we went to the sinker early in the game to be able to pull out the four-seam (later). Being able to locate it in the later innings was big for me.”
The final score was not indicative of Keller’s outing, as five of the nine runs scored after Keller exited.
Keller is 3-4 with a 3.43 ERA in 10 career starts against the Twins.
Ober is also facing the same opponent as his last outing. On Sunday, he pitched well enough to get the win but was lucky to not take the loss. He allowed one run on six hits in five innings, but he was the pitcher of record until the Twins scored five runs in the eighth and two in the ninth for a 7-6 comeback win.
Ober has faced the Royals three times in his career, recording no decisions and a 3.38 ERA.
Ober would benefit from Byron Buxton finding his groove. The Minnesota center fielder got a hit in his last at-bat Thursday, snapping an 0-for-30 stretch. Since May 7, he is 4-for-50 (.080). Buxton maintains that he is not worried because he is making hard contact.
“Just keep putting good swings on the ball,” Buxton said of the possible solution to the slump. “Eventually they’re going to start falling. I’m hitting the ball pretty hard. I’m positive I’m trending in the right direction.
“Mentally, I’m still in a good spot. I’m positive; I’m confident. So it’s just going out there, trying to be there for my teammates.”
–Field Level Media