Chris Young, pitching hero of the Royals’ 5-0 triumph over the Cardinals on Friday, felt better about the team’s hitting hero than himself.
“He’s a talented player, above all else,” Young said of Kendrys Morales. “I’m so happy for him. He’s one of the most favorite guys I ever played with. He makes everybody around him better.”
Morales drove in all five runs with a pair of deep home runs, a three-run blast in the first inning, and a two-run shot in the third, both against Cardinals starter Lance Lynn.
The barrage marked the 13th multiple-home run game of Morales’ career, and he became the first Royals player with two homers in a game since Erik Kratz last August.
A year ago, Morales spent the first part of the season out of the game, an unsigned free agent. He wound up playing 98 games for the Twins and Mariners.
“Spring training was important for me to get my rhythm,” Morales said through interpreter Pedro Grifol, the Royals’ catching coach.
Morales signed a two-year deal with the Royals to step in at designated hitter after the departure of Billy Butler, and Morales has been hitting all season. He added a single Friday to bring his average to .305, and he entered the game second in the American League in RBIs. He’s up to 37 after Friday.
“You’re telling me something I didn’t know,” Morales said.
Young was a teammate of Morales in Seattle last season and grew to appreciate Morales’ effort in making up for lost time. He hit seven home runs over the final 43 games as the Mariners made a playoff push.
“If you had asked me to get on the mound and get big-league hitters out without any type of training, I couldn’t do it,” Young said. “I think he performed better than anybody could have expected last year. This year, he’s been motivated.”