The Royals jumped on the board early. Whit Merrifield led off the game with a double. He moved to third on Ramon Torres’ flyout to center fielder Jarrod Dyson, who made a strong throw to third that was off the bag. Lorenzo Cain flew out to left and Merrifield scored on the sacrifice.
In the top of the second, Mike Moustakas murdered a baseball, depositing it in the right field facade for his 23rd home run of the season, coming less than an hour after he was announced as a participant in the All-Star Game Home Run Derby.
Ian Kennedy cruised through the first on ten pitches, setting the Mariners down in order. He ran into trouble in the second though, walking two and unfurling a wild pitch, giving a run back to Seattle. He came back with a seven pitch third inning to mitigate the high pitch count of the previous inning.
Following the early runs, Andrew Moore appeared to settle into a groove that rookie pitchers tend to pull off against Kansas City with remarkable frequency. Following the Moustakas home run, he recorded eleven consecutive outs as the Royals devolved into their flailing tendencies.
That came to an end in the fifth. With two outs, Lo Danger Ox hit a high arcing shot into the first row of right field seats to extend the Royals lead to 3-1.
Kennedy also went on a bit of a cruise. Following the second inning, where his control disappeared like Sean Spicer’s control on a press briefing room, Kennedy settled in and yielded two singles over the next three innings. A nifty defensive play by Ramon Torres got him out of the fifth inning, though his pitch count was starting to climb on a night Kansas City desperately needed some length out of their starting pitcher.
Following Gordon’s home run, the Royals offense returned to its roots of swinging a lot and recording a bunch of outs against a pitcher making his second career start. Moore worked seven full innings on 88 pitches.
Kennedy completed six innings on 97 pitches and was trotted out for the seventh inning, because doubleheaders have a tendency to wreck bullpen availability for a few days. He promptly gave up a leadoff single to former Royal Danny Valencia, who racked up three hits off of Kennedy. With one out, Kennedy uncorked another wild pitch facing Mike Zunino, as his breaking ball bounced in the heart of the left-handed batter’s box, allowing Valencia to move to second. Kennedy induced a pop out for the second out of the inning, and at 105 pitches Ned Yost brought in Peter Moylan in relief to face Nelson Cruz.
As you probably expected, Moylan struck out Cruz on three pitches, with Cruz flailing indeterminately at the third offering, a slider that ran a foot outside. Kennedy’s final line was 6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K.
Kansas City got their fifth hit in the eighth, with Whitley Strieber reaching on a bunt single to the fleshy alien lifeform Kyle Seager, a play that needed a replay review to get called safe. It was the first time since the first inning that Moore was forced to pitch out of the stretch. Merrifield stole second before Ramon Torres recorded the final out of the eighth. Moore’s line on the night was 8.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3ER, 0 BB, and 4 K. It took him just 101 pitches.
Moylan came back out for the eighth, getting an out on one pitch before giving way to Neftali Feliz, who was brought into a two-run ballgame for reasons. He managed to record the final two outs of the inning without difficulty, and there was much rejoicing.
James Pazos came on for the ninth to face the heart of Kansas City’s lineup, with Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez, and Mike Moustakas due up. Cain popped out to first, and Eric Hosmer reached on an infield single. Perez followed with a single to left. Moustakas struck out on a check swing, which by my count was the sixtieth check-swing strikeout in the game between the two teams.
Jorge Soler strode to the plate and proceeded to swing like Mighty Casey at a series of pitches until he struck out for the third time. Until someone teaches him to develop a two-strike approach, that is going to happen a lot.
Joakim Soria was the closer du jour, pitching for the third straight day. His command was spotty, but he managed to get two outs on five pitches while throwing one pitch in the zone. Then, Danny Valencia strode to the plate, looking for his fifth four-hit game on the year. It was not meant to be, as Soria struck him out on a quick pitch. Valencia was less than pleased, and some jawing between Valencia and Soria took place afterwards. It was all for not, and Soria recorded his first save on the year.
Tomorrow, The Czar of Gnar (4-4, 3.54 ERA) makes his first start in two months. He will be opposed by King Felix (3-2, 4.66 ERA), who will be making his third start after coming back from the disabled list.
The first foray of Grass Creek has gone for the Blue.