Opening Day is always an over-analyzed game. The anticipation of baseball after a long, cold winter leads to that. It’s the only game on the books and many assume that whatever players did on opening day tells how things will go for them that season. It’s easy to do. It’s fun to do. We’ll have a larger sample size soon but for now this is all we have. For the Royals in 2019, opening day showed that Brad Keller is going to win the Cy Young, Adalberto Mondesi will walk away with the A.L. MVP, Ian Kennedy is the next Wade Davis and should be the closer tomorrow and the bullpen will cause the team to lose 100 games again. The Royals just got lucky today holding on for the win, right?
That might be a little extreme but we will hear things to that affect tomorrow. There were several good things that happened in the game. Brad Keller was the brightest spot but Adalberto Mondesi couldn’t have done any more to make us think our dreams of an outstanding 2019 season for him were correct.
Brad Keller couldn’t have had a better start to the season. He’s not going to win the Cy Young Award but he is picking up right where he left off in 2018. Keller made the first opening day start of his career and led the Kansas City Royals to a 5-3 win over the White Sox. Keller threw 55 of his 92 pitches (60%) for strikes in 7 innings. He allowed no runs on two hits, walking one and striking out five. The 21 outs Keller recorded were evenly split between eight groundouts and eight fly outs to go with his five strikeouts. In other words, Brad Keller was terrific.
We kind of expected that from him because that’s who he is. I mean he’s going to be a legit number one for us for years to come.Ned Yost on Brad Keller
The offensive star of the game was Adalberto Mondesi. Mondesi went 2-for-4 on the day with one run, one RBI. Both hits were triples. Mondesi led off the bottom of the fourth with a triple that was originally ruled an out. Umpire Gabe Morales ruled that Yoan Moncada tagged Mondesi between the time his foot came off of third base and his hand landed on the bag. The Royals challenged the call and won the challenge. Mondesi then scored on a sacrifice fly by Alex Gordon that was inches from being a home run to right field.
Mondesi then tripled with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning to score Whit Merrifield all the way from first base. This time Mondesi did not score. The contact play was on and Mondesi was thrown out at the plate when Alex Gordon grounded directly at third baseman Yoan Moncada.
Ian Kennedy pitched the eighth inning in relief and was great. Kennedy needed just seven pitches to get two ground outs and one fly out to get out through the inning. The Kennedy in the bullpen experiment was a resounding success, at least for one night.
The Royals led 5-0 entering the ninth inning and then the meltdown started. Wily Peralta allowed two runs on one hit and one walk while getting just one out. Jake Diekman then replaced Peralta. Diekman allowed one run on one walk while getting one out. Kevin McCarthy was called on next but didn’t do any better. McCarthy allowed a hit and a walk before he was replaced by Brad Boxberger. Boxberger retired the one batter he faced but it was on a hard hit ball to right field right at Whit Merrifield.
The Royals played really well until the ninth inning parade of bad pitching entered the game. However, they did manage to hold on and get the win. The concern tonight though is that although they got the win, we can see a lot of the problems with the bullpen that led the Royals to 104 losses in 2018.
The Royals and White Sox will take off Friday before resuming their series at 1:15pm on Saturday. Jakob Junis will start for the Royals. Reynaldo Lopez takes the mound for the White Sox.