Credit the Royals with an “A” in marketing for Saturday’s 5-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Fan Appreciation Night at Kauffman Stadium.
There was lots to appreciate.
Kyle Davies followed up the best start of his career with an even better performance through seven shutout innings before weakening in the eighth. He yielded just three hits and retired 17 in a row at one point.
The Royals hit three homers against Chicago ace Gavin Floyd:
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•A two-run shot by Alex Gordon that opened the scoring in the second inning. It was his 15th homer of the season, which matched his total last season as a rookie, and his first since returning Sept. 12 from the disabled list.
•An inside-the-park homer by David DeJesus in the third. Right fielder Jermaine Dye made a leaping attempt at the wall, missed and fell to the ground as the ball rolled toward the infield.
•A booming drive to right by rookie Kila Ka'aihue in the seventh. The crowd of 23,754 kept cheering through the next at-bat until Ka'aihue acknowledged the curtain call for his first big-league homer.
“This was one of those days when we really wanted to play well,” DeJesus said. “We knew we were going to have a big crowd here. We wanted to give them that last taste and make it something good: A nice win and a little promise for next year.”
Check. Check. And check.
Alberto Callaspo extended his career-high hitting streak to 14 games. José Guillen had three hits. In fact, eight of the nine starters contributed to the 11-hit attack.
Davies improved to 8-7 and suddenly shows tantalizing promise of providing the Royals with a solid No. 3 starter behind Gil Meche and Zack Greinke.
“It’s the tempo that has changed the whole thing,” Davies said. “My whole mind-set on the mound is different. It’s not trying to hit corners. It’s just trying to get my best stuff to the plate and see what happens.”
Results couldn’t be more encouraging.
“I just look forward to his next outing,” manager Trey Hillman said, “because we’ve seen it back to back. He’s so locked in right now. I think he’s just gotten to the point where he realizes he has the ability to let every pitch go at maximum effort.”
Floyd, 16-8, had won six of his seven previous decisions but allowed five runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings.
The loss kept Chicago from extending its lead atop the American League Central Division over second-place Minnesota, which remained 2½ games behind after a 7-2 loss at Tampa Bay.
The Royals won for the eighth time in nine games and reached 70 victories for just the second time in eight years at 70-85. They conclude their home schedule in today’s series finale against the White Sox before heading to the road for six games.
It all started with Davies, who faced the minimum 21 hitters through seven innings. He allowed leadoff singles in the first and second innings, but both runners were erased immediately by double plays.
“After that, he was just dominating,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen conceded. “We came to fight, but we left our gloves at the hotel. We couldn’t do anything about him.”
The White Sox didn’t get another runner until Jim Thome opened the eighth with a walk. Alexei Ramirez followed with a two-run homer, which brought John Bale into the game.
That homer snapped a run of 15 scoreless innings by Davies, who worked eight innings Monday in a 3-0 victory over the Mariners.
“My key thing,” he said, “was to take the momentum I had in my last start — the tempo and everything — and just try to get a little bit better. I don’t know if I got better, but it was no less.”
Bale retired the next three hitters in extending his scoreless streak to 9 1/3 innings over eight appearances since returning Sept. 2 from the disabled list.
Joakim Soria pitched the ninth for his 41st save in 44 opportunities — although not without a touch of drama.
The Mexicutioner opened the inning by walking DeWayne Wise and allowed a one-out single to A.J. Pierzynski. Dye then sent Mark Teahen to the left-field wall for the second out.
“I thought the ball would go out,” Dye said, “but this is a pretty big park now.”
It’s 10 feet deeper than when Dye played for the Royals from 1997-2001. That made all of the difference.
“I’m sure the crowd got a little worried,” Teahen said. “I was worried off the bat because Dye has some legitimate power. But I know the park is a decent size.
“I went back to the fence thinking I would have a shot at it. I jumped for it, but I really didn’t have to.”
Soria then closed out the victory by striking out Thome.