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Kennedy bolsters case for 2019 rotation spot

Right-hander pitches 7 strong innings in win vs. Detroit
September 21, 2018

DETROIT -- Right-hander Ian Kennedy is making a strong case here in September that he can still be a valuable part of the Royals rotation going forward.Kennedy turned in his third straight quality start since returning from the disabled list (oblique) by throwing seven strong innings in a 4-3 victory

DETROIT -- Right-hander Ian Kennedy is making a strong case here in September that he can still be a valuable part of the Royals rotation going forward.
Kennedy turned in his third straight quality start since returning from the disabled list (oblique) by throwing seven strong innings in a 4-3 victory over the Tigers at Comerica Park on Friday night.
Kennedy established his fastball early and held the Royals scoreless for four innings until Ronny Rodriguez led off the Tigers' fifth with a home run to left off a four-seam fastball. It was the first home run Kennedy allowed this month.
Kennedy scattered seven hits and walked none while striking out six. He gave up three runs (two earned).

"He's really throwing the ball well," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It's what we need finishing the year out."
Added Kennedy, "It's been fun these last few weeks. The offense has kick started and we're scoring. I like what it looks like for next year.
"When you're watching it [while on the disabled list], you just want to get back out there. All our young starters have been throwing great and you just want to get out there and join the party. For the most part, they've all been throwing really well."

The Royals capitalized on some shabby Detroit defense. Raul Mondesi reached on an error in the first inning, and then scored all the way from first on a single to left by Alex Gordon, who had three hits. Mondesi rounded third, and when left fielder Christin Stewart lobbed the throw back into second base, Mondesi raced for home and scored without a throw.
"Mondi set up the first run with some great instinctual baserunning," Yost said. "I was watching Mondi come around third and saw [third-base coach Mike Jirschele] hold him up. And then I saw Mondi take a couple of shuffle steps and when they threw into second, he was gone. Great instincts."
Mondesi said he was hoping Stewart would lob a throw to second.
"I tried to read the play," Mondesi said. "I was hoping he would do that, 100 percent. Then I just ran hard and got us a run."
Whit Merrifield singled, stole his league-leading 38th base and scored on Gordon's single in the third to make it 2-0.

Alcides Escobar reached on an error by first baseman Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the fourth and scored on Rosell Herrera's double. Herrera went to third on a throwing error on the play, and then scored on Cam Gallagher's sacrifice fly. In all, three of the Royals' four runs were unearned.
Wily Peralta closed out the game for his 12th save. He made a great play after a leadoff infield hit by Rodriguez. James McCann tried to sacrifice bunt, but Peralta grabbed the ball and fired a bullet to second to nip Rodriguez. Later, Peralta struck out Dawel Lugo and Jim Adduci to seal the win.

"He's more athletic than he looks," Yost said. "He bounded off the mound and made a great throw."
Peralta said his fastball to second base was his hardest one all night.
"I just got it in my mind [to throw to second]," Peralta said. "I knew it would be hard. I thought I would just check it and then I thought I had a chance. And I thought I had him." 
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Royals could have scored a third run in the fourth inning. Jorge Bonifacio led off with a walk and went to third when Escobar reached on an error. But Bonifacio wandered too far off third on a safety squeeze and Herrera took a pitch. Bonifacio easily was picked off third.

"It was Boni being a little too anxious," Yost said. "It was a safety squeeze and Boni has to see it down. He just got too anxious."
UP NEXT
Right-hander Jakob Junis (8-12, 4.42 ERA) will take the mound for the Royals in Game 3 of the series at Comerica Park against the Tigers. Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (7-8, 4.41 ERA) will pitch for the Tigers. Junis will be trying to bounce back from a three-inning outing in his last start Sunday against the Twins in which he allowed eight hits, including three home runs, and four runs overall.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.