This was more familiar.
Ian Kennedy threw seven scoreless innings, Kendrys Morales cracked his first homer in nearly a month, and the Royals coasted past the Cleveland Indians in a 7-0 victory on Saturday afternoon.
Under an overcast sky, the Royals steadied the ship and avoided falling under .500 for the first time since July 22, 2014. They claimed a much-needed road victory after losing eight of nine away from Kauffman Stadium. They sit at 15-14 overall entering the rubber match on Sunday afternoon.
One night after starter Yordano Ventura melted down in the early innings, Kennedy was the personification of consistency, allowing just four hits while striking out six over seven innings. Kennedy notched his fourth win of the season, improving to 4-2 while lowering his ERA to 2.13.
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In the offseason, the Royals opened the coffers and invested $70 million and five years into the 31-year-old Kennedy. In the last week, the signing has appeared wise. Last Sunday, Kennedy helped stop a five-game winning streak by allowing just one run in five innings in a victory over the Seattle Mariners. On Saturday, he spun his finest outing of the season.
Just hours after the Royals placed starting third baseman Mike Moustakas on the 15-day disabled list, the offense struck quickly against Indians starter Cody Anderson in the top of the first inning. Anderson, 25, had begun the season in the Indians rotation before being optioned to Triple-A Columbus in late April. The Indians wanted Anderson to iron out some mechanical issues. He returned Saturday afternoon to face a beleaguered Royals offense. Morales greeted his arrival with a booming three-run homer into the seats in right field.
Lorenzo Cain had ignited the rally with a single to left field. Eric Hosmer followed with a sharp single through the hole at second base. Up stepped Morales, who fell behind o-2 on two changeups.
Perhaps Anderson should have stuck with the soft stuff. He unspooled a 91 mph cutter that moved toward the inside of the plate. The pitch found its way into Morales’ wheelhouse.
Morales dropped his barrel on the baseball and cranked a 442-foot blast to deep right. It was his third homer of the season — and his first since April 11 at Houston.
The Royals tacked on a fourth run in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI double from Jarrod Dyson. Th extra-base hit scored Christian Colon from second base. It also snapped an 0-for-18 stretch for Dyson, who had not collected a hit since going 1 for 3 on April 27 in a 4-2 loss in Anaheim.
The Royals’ offense would finish with 12 hits and seven runs, an explosion of runs after scoring just 16 runs in their last 10 games.
Moustakas to DL – The pain had lingered for more than a week, sapping the power from his swing and limiting the dexterity in his left hand. On Wednesday, Mike Moustakas could barely grip the bat during a 13-2 loss at Kauffman Stadium. When he arrived to the clubhouse at Progressive Field on Friday afternoon, he tried to slide his glove on over his enlarged left hand. It was too swollen.
Moments later, Moustakas says, reality set in. He had tried for a week to play through a bone fracture in the base of his left thumb. It was time to rest.
“It was one of those things where I had to be real with myself,” Moustakas said.
On Saturday, the Royals placed Moustakas on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Thursday. The club recalled infielder Cheslor Cuthbert to fill the roster spot. He was in the starting lineup at third base on Saturday against the Indians.
The injury comes at an unfortunate time, with the Royals’ offense mired in an extended slump and Moustakas pacing for a career year in home runs. The offense entered Saturday having scored 16 runs in its last 10 games. Moustakas was batting .258 with a team-leading seven homers, offering production near the top of the lineup.
The initial prognosis, according to Royals trainer Nick Kenney, is that Moustakas could miss somewhere between 15 to 21 days. On Saturday, he received a second opinion from Tom Graham, a hand specialist in Cleveland.