KC Royals News: AL Central race, Kris Bubic, and more

An early-week Kansas City news roundup.
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

For the better part of this season, the KC Royals and Cleveland have waged a hard-fought war for first place in the American League Central. The latest stage of the battle began May 15 with the Royals trailing the Guardians by a game-and-a-half, a margin that didn't change until Sunday.

That's because the clubs have, since that mid-month date, mastered the art of matching results day after day. The only exception came Sunday when, with the two clubs riding eight-game winning streaks that began after both went down to defeat May 15, the Royals lost and Cleveland won to increase its lead to 2.5 games

And Monday, both teams mounted ninth inning rallies ... and both, of course, lost. The Royals' offense, essentially dormant for eight innings against Minnesota, was down to its last out but suddenly came to life and scored four runs before Bobby Witt Jr. grounded out with runners at second and third to end the game and give Minnesota a 6-5 victory. And Cleveland pushed across a run in the ninth but still lost to Colorado 8-6.

Tonight, the Guardians, 36-18, play the Rockies at Coors Field, while the Royals, 34-21, play the second of their four-game road series at Minnesota.

Kris Bubic's injury rehabilitation moves forward

It's been over 13 months since Kris Bubic took a two-game 1.64 ERA into his third start of the 2023 season. But on April 15, the excellence he displayed in his previous two outings was nowhere to be found — he gave up five runs and 10 hits in five innings as Atlanta beat him and the Royals 9-3.

Bubic, it turned out, had a torn UCL and soon underwent Tommy John Surgery. He's on the road back, however, and, after three promising appearances in the Arizona Complex League and two short starts at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, the Royals have bumped his rehabilitation assignment to Triple-A Omaha. He didn't pitch in the Storm Chasers' Memorial Day loss to Indianapolis.

Former KC Royals starter Brad Keller finds another new home

The White Sox didn't have much patience with ex-Royal Brad Keller. After signing him during spring training and sending him to Triple-A Nashville to begin the season, he lasted just five games in the majors before they designated him for assignment last week. His 0-2 record and the six runs he gave up to the Yankees in four innings May 18 help explain that move.

Now, however, Keller is pitching for another big league club after Boston signed him Sunday. How long he'll last with the Red Sox remains to be seen, though, especially after Monday afternoon — coming out of the bullpen to make his first appearance for the Sox, he allowed Baltimore four runs on seven hits in four innings. Although the Orioles led 7-0 when he entered the game, his performance isn't what the Red Sox need when they're already 9.5 games behind the AL East-leading Yankees.

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