Royals

Ian Kennedy’s gem, Alcides Escobar’s hit key Royals’ 1-0 walk-off victory

Alcides Escobar celebrated his walk-off RBI single that scored Raul Mondesi from third base in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals swept the three-game series.
Alcides Escobar celebrated his walk-off RBI single that scored Raul Mondesi from third base in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals swept the three-game series. jsleezer@kcstar.com

The Royals continue to work through some issues. The bats produced just six singles on Sunday. The bullpen did its job, a day after allowing a late run.

But the starting pitching? It can’t get much better.

Ian Kennedy provided the most recent encouraging contribution, with eight scoreless innings that paved the way for a 1-0 triumph over the Los Angeles Angels in front of 27,950 at Kauffman Stadium.

The victory occurred in walk-off fashion, with Alcides Escobar lifting a fly ball to the outfield that fell for a single and scored pinch runner Raul Mondesi from third.

Winning by the slightest of margins was made possible by Kennedy, who struck out 10 while surrendering two hits and two walks over 111 pitches.

In lowering his ERA to 2.37, Kennedy shrank the team’s ERA among starting pitchers to 2.31, tops in baseball. As well as Kennedy has pitched this season, he still trails Jason Vargas (0.66) and Danny Duffy (1.80) in the Royals rotation.

“We all pull for each other,” Kennedy said. “It’s going to be a fun year if we continue this.”

Royals pitcher Ian Kennedy on his gem against the Angels

It’s been a fun week. After a 2-4 road trip and two straight losses in the opening series at home, the Royals won their fourth straight game Sunday and swept their first series of the season.

Kennedy credited the action and location on all of his pitches.

“The fastball command was down, change-up was down, all my misses were down,” Kennedy said. “When I needed to go up, it was there.”

Kennedy, who didn’t figure in the decision, retired the first nine batters, a sequence that included Lorenzo Cain hustling to track down C.J. Cron’s line drive before crashing into the wall. Kennedy didn’t allow a hit until two outs in the fifth, and, yes, he started thinking about the zeroes and the possibility of a no-hitter.

“A little bit,” Kennedy said. “That’s a tough lineup to navigate through.”

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Kennedy also got caught up in the effort of his opponent, Tyler Skaggs, who was authoring the best start of the season for the Angels, who entered the game with baseball’s second worst team ERA at 6.02. But Skaggs didn’t allow a run through seven, while striking out nine.

The Royals had some base runners early, two in each of the first two innings. But they couldn’t come up with the big knock. After Escobar singled in the second the Royals didn’t get another hit until he singled again in the seventh.

Escobar, who entered the game with a .189 batting average, arrived at the batter’s box in the ninth to an unusual sight.

The Angels had moved right fielder Kole Calhoun to the infield. Escobar looked up and saw five infielders and two outfielders.

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Runners stood at third and first. Salvador Perez opened the inning with a single and was replaced by Mondesi, who advanced on a stolen base and wild pitch. Pinch hitter Mike Moustakas walked.

The Angels shifted their defense for Paulo Orlando, whose infield pop-out meant the Angels were a double play away from escaping the inning. But they maintained the alignment for Escobar, and a safety squeeze bunt was on the table. Manager Ned Yost reminded Escobar to look for the sign when he stepped up.

“I said, ‘Let me hit, I can bring the run in,’ ” Escobar said.

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Hit he did. A fly ball to center fell in for a single. Mondesi trotted home with the game-winner and the Royals celebrated Escobar’s third hit of the day with him near second base. A good second week of the season had concluded, and Yost said he’s just starting to see the team’s upside.

“We’re back to .500 and you want to continue to keep plugging away until start really firing on all cylinders offensively,” Yost said. “Then you can really count on going on a run.”

Blair Kerkhoff: 816-234-4730, @BlairKerkhoff

Royals 1, Angels 0

Los Angeles

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Y.Escobar 3b

3

0

0

0

1

1

.302

Revere lf

4

0

0

0

0

0

.217

Trout cf

4

0

0

0

0

2

.304

Pujols dh

2

0

0

0

1

1

.200

Calhoun rf

3

0

0

0

0

1

.255

Cron 1b

3

0

1

0

0

0

.304

Espinosa 2b

3

0

0

0

0

3

.200

Pennington ss

3

0

1

0

0

2

.286

C.Perez c

3

0

0

0

0

1

.077

Totals

28

0

2

0

2

11

 

Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Gordon lf

4

0

0

0

0

2

.188

Cain cf

3

0

0

0

1

1

.350

Hosmer 1b

4

0

1

0

0

2

.196

S.Perez dh

4

0

2

0

0

1

.289

b Mondesi pr-dh

0

1

0

0

0

0

.125

Cuthbert 3b

3

0

0

0

0

2

.143

a Moustakas ph

0

0

0

0

1

0

.293

Orlando rf

4

0

0

0

0

0

.128

A.Escobar ss

4

0

3

1

0

1

.244

Colon 2b

2

0

0

0

1

1

.000

Butera c

3

0

0

0

0

1

.000

Totals

31

1

6

1

3

11

 

Los Angeles

000

000

000

0

2

0

Kansas City

000

000

001

1

6

0

One out when winning run scored

a-walked for Cuthbert in the 9th. b-ran for S.Perez in the 9th.

LOB: Los Angeles 3, Kansas City 8. 2B: Cron (0). RBIs: A.Escobar (1). SB: Mondesi (4). Runners left in scoring position: Los Angeles 1 (Espinosa); Kansas City 3 (Gordon, Cuthbert 2). RISP: Los Angeles 0 for 1; Kansas City 1 for 7. GIDP: Revere. DP: Kansas City 1 (A.Escobar, Hosmer).

Los Angeles

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Skaggs

7

4

0

0

2

9

103

5.19

Alvarez

1

0

0

0

0

2

13

2.25

Parker L, 0-1

0

1

1

1

1

0

8

4.50

Bedrosian

 1/3

1

0

0

0

0

7

0.00

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Kennedy

8

2

0

0

2

10

111

2.37

Herrera W, 1-0

1

0

0

0

0

1

8

3.60

Parker pitched to 2 batters in the 9th.

Inherited runners-scored: Bedrosian 2-1. WP: Skaggs, Parker. Umpires: Home, Chris Conroy; First, Jerry Meals; Second, Ron Kulpa; Third, Ed Hickox. Time: 2:37. Att: 27,950.

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