KANSAS CITY -- The last time Ian Kennedy faced the Indians, the Royals were spiraling in the wrong direction. Kennedy gave up eight hits and five runs as the team lost its third straight, falling out of first in the American League Central.On Wednesday, Kennedy was back on the mound
KANSAS CITY -- The last time Ian Kennedy faced the Indians, the Royals were spiraling in the wrong direction. Kennedy gave up eight hits and five runs as the team lost its third straight, falling out of first in the American League Central.
On Wednesday, Kennedy was back on the mound against the Indians. He wasn't perfect, surrendering four runs in 6 2/3 innings. But as he left the mound for the last time in the Royals' 9-4 win, the feeling was complete different.
"We just got in a funk over there in Cleveland," Kennedy said. "It's kind of crazy how everything is going."
All in all, Kennedy put together a solid performance, guiding the Royals to a fifth consecutive victory and ninth straight at home. He gave up the runs on two mistake pitches, but for the most part, he navigated around a capable Indians offense, which kept the game close before the Royals burst out with four runs in the fifth and three more in the sixth.
But more than that, Kennedy lasted 6 2/3 innings, which allowed Royals manager Ned Yost to give another day off to the top arms in his bullpen, getting everyone back to full strength.
"We were trying to push him as far as we could to make sure we didn't have to use [Joakim] Soria, [Kelvin] Herrera or Wade [Davis]," Yost said after the game. "He came in and just did an awesome job."
Even with how the outing went, Kennedy was a mistake away from a quality start. And it wasn't a mistake on a pitch. Instead, it came as Indians third baseman Michael Martinez hit a ground ball to Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer in the fifth inning.The play should've resulted in a routine out, but Kennedy didn't come off the mound to cover first.
"For a second I thought it was foul. And by that time, he was so fast, I knew it was too late," Kennedy said. "That was just a brain fart on my part."
One batter later, the mistake turned into a game-tying one. Tribe left fielder Rajai Davis smashed a two-run shot to left-center field, tying the game at 2.
"At that time in my head, I was saying it should be [2-0]," Kennedy said.
But Kennedy remained calm. He got out of the inning and kept his composure for the rest of the game, continuing a stretch of solid outings from the Royals starters.
Starting after the team's eight-game losing skid, the starting pitchers stepped up to stabilize the team. First, it was left-hander Danny Duffy, followed by right-handers Yordano Ventura and Edinson Volquez. The ball kept rolling, as the Royals climbed atop the AL Central leaderboard, sharing the lead with Cleveland.
"This is going to be a tough division," Yost said after the game. "Now we're tied for first place again, and we'll just go back at it again tomorrow."
Scott Chasen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Kansas City.