Starting pitching was the story of tonight’s 8-2 Royals win, as Detroit’s Norris (less Chuck than UpChuck) was chased from the 4th inning while the Royals’ Kennedy was mostly dominant through seven innings. Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas added home runs to their totals as part of an offensive outbreak worthy of a CDC report.
1st - 3rd innings
Although Norris throws the 4th-most pitches per inning in the league, the Royals swung past that information like a Tarzan movie on fast-forward. The first two innings cruised by, highlighted only by a nice over-the-shoulder running catch by Cain on Cabrera, but then Escobar opened the 3rd by ambush-doubling down the left-field line. Gordon followed with an ambush-single past second to score Escobar; 1-0 Royals. Merrifield, craftily figuring that Norris might catch on to the game plan, ambush-double-played instead before Bonifacio quietly flied out to right. Meanwhile, Kennedy remained on cruise-control.
Having briefly woken up from their nap the inning before, the Royals now batted around Norris like a YouTube kitten with a ball of string. After Cain grounded to second, Hosmer dinked ball 4 off the end of his bat, outrunning the throw to first. On a 3-0 count, Perez donged a 94 mph outside pitch to left, his 16th of the year. Remembering the game plan, Moustakas promptly ambushed-donged the next pitch to right. Following a Soler strikeout, Escobar reached first when his soft liner bounced out of Cabrera’s glove following an awkward ballerina-leap by the big man. Gordon then doubled an 87 mph pitch into the right field corner, sending Escobar racing around to beat an off-line throw home. Merrifield broke his bat on a slow roller to first, but hustled around the tag as Cabrera, apparently determined to prove than men in white CAN jump, lunged behind a diving Whitley. At this point, Norris was yanked like the stopcord on a runaway bus, ending with 64 pitches in 3.2 innings and 5 earned runs. Warwick “Bruce” Saupold, the Tigers’ answer to Peter Moylan, came on to face Bonifacio. With more patience than a July 4th ER, Bonifacio loaded the bases with a walk that negated Merrifield’s successful steal on 2-2 count. Eventually the Antipodean Assassin ended it, handing Cain the dubious honor of making the first and last outs of the inning.
Meanwhile, Kennedy hit a brief pothole named Alex Avila, who generously donated a ball to the crowd in left field, but Ian rolled down the window, turned up the radio, and motored on.
The Royals curled up in their basket and napped again. Kennedy hit some washboard as Castellanos hit a hard grounder down the left field line that Moustakas did well to snag, though his throw pulled Hosmer off the bag for a safe single. Escobar couldn’t quite turn the DP on Mahtook’s grounder, swapping runners at first. Following a walk to Iglesias, Kennedy recovered as Kinsler copied off Castellanos’ homework with another grounder down the line that Moustakas fielded cleanly and relayed to Hosmer to end the inning.
“Mortal Wombat” Saupold continued to swat Royals batters like flies on a kangaroo. Kennedy took his hands off the wheel to adjust the radio and allowed another random HR, this time to Cabrera, but quickly recovered as J.D. Martinez flied out.
Saupold fleeced Merrifield and Bonifacio before Cain reached on a weird popup infield single and Hosmer drew a walk. With two on, Perez had a chance to show the colonist the meaning of penal with another dong, but struck out instead. Meanwhile, a Victor Martinez single triggered the check-engine light on Kennedy as Mike Minor appeared in the pen, but a Castellanos DP ball and a Mahtook grounder to Moose ensured that the inning ended cleanly.
The Royals finally got past the Great Saupold Reef, placing Moose and Escobar at first and third before Gordon grounded out to drive in the former. Merrifield then bounced a ball off his own shin before breaking another bat to end the inning on a groundout, but the lead was extended to 6-2. In the bottom of the 8th, Kennedy was finally traded in for everyone’s favorite used car, Soria, who induced three quick outs after a leadoff Iglesias single.
Alex Wilson came on to pitch the ninth, quickly showing that he’s no Saupold by giving up 2 more runs on doubles by Cain and Perez and a single by Soler, spaced around two groundouts and an IBB to Moustakas (who may have helped the final run score by drawing the throw away from home). Kevin McCarthy came in for the bottom of the ninth, giving up a single to Cabrera before cleaning up the mess with a double play and a weak grounder by J.D. Martinez.
With solid starting pitching, good bullpen relief, and an opportunistic offense, this game sure felt like a rerun of the glory days just a few years ago. Kennedy finished with a dealer-fresh line of 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO on 94 pitches and the Royals are poised to climb back over .500 with a series win tomorrow.