PHOENIX -- The temperature was nearly 60 degrees warmer in Phoenix than in Minnesota, where the Royals open their season in two and a half weeks, but Nathan Karns was already starting to feel like he was pitching in a regular-season game Friday as the Royals beat the Brewers 8-5.
"I try to approach every start out there as a regular-season game, but sometimes early in camp you have objectives you want to achieve," Karns said. "Today I was able to put that aside and just go out there and straight out compete. Even if I'm getting a long inning, I want to go out there and find whatever's inside of me to pull through, and fight through the tough times. In the third inning, when we had the double play with second and third, no outs -- to get out of that inning with no runs scored with the defense's help, it was just a great feeling today."
Karns pitched four innings and gave up four runs (three earned) on seven hits and two walks, and all the runs came in the first inning. Two were courtesy of Ryan Braun's first spring home run.
"Tip your cap to Braun," Karns said. "He sat on a first-pitch curveball, just got it out enough. After that, I worked ahead, but I think my finishing pitches I left out over the plate at times, and they were able to put it in play."
His last time out, Karns was working on his changeup, and didn't get the positive feeling he wanted after leaving the game against the Dodgers on Sunday. After just two innings he had four runs on his line. This time, he used all his pitches, and left feeling like he was getting in the swing of things.
"It was time to just use everything and pitch normal -- pitch like I would in the season," Karns said. "At times, I fell behind, and I was able to go to the changeup to get me back in the count or even ahead. The curveball -- I had a lot of guys that were diving out of the way, and they were called strikes. That kind of gave me some positive feedback that the shape, the break and the tightness in my curveball was there. I had some life to my fastball today."
Ultimately, Karns is trying to secure a spot in the Royals rotation, and he made a good impression on manager Ned Yost with the way he bounced back Friday.
"I liked when he kept the ball down," Yost said. "He's got three plus pitches. He was a little inconsistent up in the zone in the first inning some, and they didn't miss it. When he was down in the zone, he was pretty darn good."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.