Royals

After wind-blown home run, Ian Kennedy is hard-luck loser in Royals opener

The last time the Royals lost a home opener, boos rained down on Kauffman Stadium in the first inning.

In 2012, Luke Hochevar was knocked around for seven runs in the first by the Indians, and the Royals made enough misplays around him to hear the jeers before the end of the inning.

No such ugliness at Kauffman Stadium on Monday, but the loss hurt nonetheless to starting pitcher Ian Kennedy.

The Royals fell to the A’s 2-0. Kennedy pitched well, a quality start in the baseball glossary, with two runs allowed over six innings while striking out four and walking two. That’s enough to win many games.

But without run support, Kennedy took the loss and now stands 0-2 for the first time since 2008.

“I tried to keep our team in the ball game whether I had my good stuff or not,” Kennedy said. “I had to be pretty much perfect to win this game because Cotton threw great.”

Yes, A’s starter Jharel Cotton bested Kennedy with seven scoreless innings, and without one pitch in the fourth, Kennedy might have matched the zeroes.

But after running three pitches past Khris Davis out of the strike zone, Kennedy wanted to stay in attack mode and had to be careful. Davis, who hit 42 home runs last season, has a career .483 batting average after a 3-0 count.

“I knew he would be aggressive on 3-0,” Kennedy said. “I thought he missed it a little bit.”

Davis got enough of the pitch to send it into the gusts that were blowing decidedly toward right field. The ball carried just over the wall, and with Ryon Healy singling ahead of Davis, the A’s grabbed the lead.

“It was a good 3-0 pitch, down and away,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “It wasn’t a ‘get-me-over fastball.’ He muscled it out of the ballpark.

“I didn’t think it was going to be a home run. I thought it would carry but not that far.”

The only blemish was enough to get the Royals beaten on a day of ceremony and sadness. Kennedy was in the bullpen during the pregame tribute to Yordano Ventura and didn’t see much of the tribute scoreboard.

“Selfishly, I would have liked to have taken it in,” Kennedy said. “We had a ball game to play. I watched other memorials for him and just the memory of who he was as a teammate, and all of us, we want to play and honor him as much as we can.”

Kennedy said he almost felt bad warming up during the video, but he had a routine to maintain.

“A lot of these guys played with him for a long time. I imagine it was a lot more emotional for them,” Kennedy said. “You could see it in a lot of the guys’ eyes when I came in. You have to look at the task in front of you.”

Still, Kennedy was stoked when the rotation set up for him to get the ball for the home opener. Danny Duffy opened the season at Minnesota a week earlier. Kennedy pitched the second game, and that put in line for Monday’s start.

“It was nice,” Kennedy said. “My first thought was they would do something for Ace (Ventura). But l love pitching in front our crowd, in our stadium.”

Blair Kerkhoff: 816-234-4730, @BlairKerkhoff

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