Royals

Ian Kennedy is stung by the long ball as Royals lose 7-3 to the Yankees

On any given night, the contours and dimensions of Yankee Stadium can make for a cruel and unforgiving house of baseball. Any pitcher who toes the rubber there knows that, and nobody in the Royals clubhouse should understand that better than Ian Kennedy.

A decade ago he began his career in pinstripes, spending parts of three seasons plying his trade in the Bronx. Two of those seasons were played in the old stadium, which once sat next door and has long since been demolished. But the dimensions — 314 feet down the right field line, 318 in left, a short porch in right center — are the same. And so is the reality: Well-executed pitches can turn into home runs. A few mistakes can turn into losses.

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On Thursday night at Yankee Stadium, this was life for Kennedy, who allowed just three hits through his first four innings. All three left the ballpark, resulting in five runs and the early seeds of the Royals’ 7-3 loss to the Yankees in the finale of a four-game series.

In the end, Kennedy allowed seven runs on five hits and three walks in 6  1/3 innings. The Royals lost for the third time in four nights. The Royals, 16-18, packed their bags in a quiet clubhouse and boarded a flight home to Kansas City after a 2-5 road trip through Cleveland and New York.

“I just made a couple of mistakes and got beat by the long ball,” Kennedy said.

The Royals have lost five straight series. In four games in New York they were outscored 26-20. The starting pitching has turned volatile during the latter half of a prolonged funk. On Friday, the Royals will try to stem the tide against the Atlanta Braves at Kauffman Stadium.

“I’ll just be happy to get home,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “It seems like we haven’t been home in a year. We have a real comfort level at home.”

On Thursday, Kennedy was making his return to New York after seven years away. He was once a young pitcher there, a future cog of the starting rotation. But those days are gone, and Kennedy said he had little emotion as he warmed up in bullpen before. Instead, he was focused on something more encouraging: His stuff felt good.

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Three hours later, he had little to show for it.

“It’s kind of a shame,” Kennedy said. “It’s kind of waste when you feel good and you physically feel good and you lose. And you don’t give your team a chance. I just made a couple of mistakes and got beat by the long ball.”

The Yankees forged an early lead in the bottom of the first. With one out and nobody on, second baseman Starlin Castro sat on a 1-1 slider that did not slide. The pitch resembled a spinning cutter, and Castro drove an opposite-field blast into the seats in right-center field.

In the second, the Yankees would stretch the score to 3-0 when Chase Headley sliced a two-out, two-run shot inside the foul pole in left field. It was Headley’s first extra-base hit of the season after 90 at-bats.

It was just the second hit allowed by Kennedy, who would not allow another hit until Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius lifted a hanging breaking ball out of the ballpark with two outs and one on in the fourth inning.

As the baseball crashed into the seats beyond right field, Kennedy turned back toward the umpire and flashed his glove, asking for another baseball.

“I made a mistake to Didi,” Kennedy said. “Those are what cost us the game.”

Gregorius’ two-run shot had come just a half-inning after the Royals had sliced into a 3-0 lead with two runs in the top of the fourth. Alex Gordon launched a 422-foot homer off Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi.

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The offense pieced together another run with two outs. Third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert lined a double into the gap. He scored on an RBI base hit from second baseman Christian Colon, who was playing in place of Omar Infante for another night.

For all the power from the Yankees, the game nearly veered in the Royals’ direction in the top of the fifth inning. Trailing 5-2, the offense manufactured a run with two outs and put runners at first and second with catcher Salvador Perez striding to the plate.

On a 1-2 splitter, Perez stayed back and stroked a line drive toward the short porch in right field. In the dugout, Yost thought it was gone. So did Perez, who kept a watchful eye as he jogged down the first-base line.

“Maybe,” he said later.

But seconds later, Yankees right fielder Carlos Beltran retreated back — and back — and made a jumping catch at the wall.

Two innings later, the Yankees put two runners on against Kennedy. Yost emerged from the dugout and summoned former Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang, who allowed two inherited runners to score in his first ever appearance against his old team. The deficit was suddenly four runs. Against the Yankees’ shutdown bullpen, the Royals had little chance for a late comeback.

“We ran into their bullpen,” Yost said. “Eovaldi had great stuff. His fastball was topping 100. Good slider. But we did a good job of staying after him.”

Yankees 7, Royals 3

Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Escobar ss

5

0

0

0

0

1

.248

Cain cf

3

0

1

0

1

0

.276

Hosmer 1b

4

1

2

0

0

1

.333

Morales dh

3

0

0

0

1

1

.190

Gordon lf

4

1

2

2

0

0

.239

Perez c

4

0

0

0

0

1

.226

Cuthbert 3b

4

1

1

0

0

0

.280

Colon 2b

4

0

2

1

0

0

.282

Dyson rf

3

0

0

0

0

1

.215

a-Orlando ph

1

0

1

0

0

0

.306

Totals

35

3

9

3

2

5

 

New York

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Gardner lf

3

0

0

0

1

0

.229

Castro 2b

4

1

2

2

0

0

.300

Teixeira 1b

4

0

0

0

0

3

.194

McCann dh

3

0

1

1

1

2

.276

Beltran rf

2

1

0

0

2

1

.256

Ackley rf

0

0

0

0

0

0

.128

Hicks cf

4

1

0

0

0

1

.200

Gregorius ss

4

1

1

2

0

0

.221

Headley 3b

3

2

2

2

1

0

.194

Romine c

4

1

1

0

0

1

.333

Totals

31

7

7

7

5

8

 

Kansas City

000

210

000

3

9

0

New York

120

200

20x

7

7

0

a-singled for Dyson in the 9th.

LOB: Kansas City 7, New York 5. 2B: Hosmer (7), Cuthbert (1). HR: Gordon (4), off Eovaldi; Castro (4), off Kennedy; Headley (1), off Kennedy; Gregorius (3), off Kennedy. RBIs: Gordon 2 (10), Colon (3), Castro 2 (14), McCann (16), Gregorius 2 (14), Headley 2 (6).

Runners left in scoring position: Kansas City 2 (Hosmer, Perez); New York 2 (Beltran 2). RISP: Kansas City 2 for 5; New York 1 for 3. GIDP: Morales. DP: New York 1 (Castro, Gregorius, Teixeira).

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Kennedy L, 4-3

6 1/3

5

7

7

3

6

102

3.25

Wang

 2/3

1

0

0

2

1

22

3.27

Alexander

1

1

0

0

0

1

12

0.00

New York

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Eovaldi W, 3-2

5

8

3

3

2

3

98

4.85

Yates

1

0

0

0

0

0

10

2.19

Betances

1

0

0

0

0

1

14

2.40

Miller

1

0

0

0

0

1

10

0.66

Shreve

1

1

0

0

0

0

8

4.85

Holds: Betances (7), Yates (1). Inherited runners-scored: Wang 2-2.

Umpires: Home, Will Little; First, Ted Barrett; Second, Angel Hernandez; Third, Sean Barber. Time: 2:44. Att: 35,944.

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