Kansas City Royals pitcher Ian Kennedy got his first home win of the season, after the team held onto a 2-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, and former Royals pitcher Zack Greinke on Sept. 29, 2017. John Sleezer and Maria Torres The Kansas City Star
Kansas City Royals pitcher Ian Kennedy got his first home win of the season, after the team held onto a 2-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, and former Royals pitcher Zack Greinke on Sept. 29, 2017. John Sleezer and Maria Torres The Kansas City Star

Kansas City Royals

With future stars watching, Royals begin final series of season with win over Diamondbacks

By Maria Torres

mtorres@kcstar.com

September 29, 2017 10:22 PM

UPDATED September 30, 2017 09:14 AM

Hours before the Royals began their final series with a group of players on the verge of free agency on Friday, the organization’s minor-league players of the year lined up along the first-base line to watch major-league batting practice and greet the likes of Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas.

They shook hands with bench coaches and took pictures with Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar. They stood in a mostly empty Kauffman Stadium before the game, surveying a field that in the future might be theirs to inherit.

Once they were honored in a pregame ceremony, the potential stars of tomorrow took their seats to watch men, who years ago became Kansas City legends, play in what could be their final games here in a Royals uniform.

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The future of Royals baseball arrives in KC

The Kansas City Royals minor-league pitchers and catchers of the year arrived in town to be honored prior to the Royals' game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday Sept. 29 at Kauffman Stadium. First round draft pick Nick Prato and left-handed pitcher Richard Lovelady stopped to visit.

John Sleezer and Rustin Dodd The Kansas City Star

They saw a pitching duel in which Whit Merrifield’s homer — a leadoff, 410-foot shot that hugged the left-field foul pole on its way out with an exit velocity of merely 103.4 mph in the third inning — was the most thrilling hit of the evening.

And they saw the Royals, a team that has scored three or fewer runs in five of its last six games, beat the National League wild card-leading Arizona Diamondbacks 2-1.

The Royals improved to 79-81 with two games remaining and retained the opportunity to finish with .500 or better for the fifth consecutive season.

To get there, starter Ian Kennedy provided five innings of one-run ball against one of his former teams. He almost didn’t get the chance to — Kennedy begged manager Ned Yost to allow him a chance to make his 30th start of the year.

Royals manager Ned Yost didn't 'see any reason' to start Ian Kennedy

Royals starter Ian Kennedy had to beg manager Ned Yost to allow him to make his 30th and final start of the season on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. The Royals beat the Diamondbacks 2-1. He won for the first time at Kauffman Stadium in 2017 and again hit that mark of 30 starts in a season.

Maria Torres The Kansas City Star

Kennedy labored, needing 23 pitches to get through the first inning alone. He allowed a leadoff homer to Jake Lamb in the second inning, the 34th home run Kennedy had allowed this season.

“Ian told me, when he came in (after the third), ‘I heard the phone, I looked down at the bullpen and I thought to myself I better make an adjustment,’” Yost said. “And he did.”

Kennedy wound up striking out seven batters and finished with 86 pitches. It was enough for Kennedy to earn just his fifth win of his topsy-turvy 2017 campaign. He hadn’t won in two months, since a quality start on July 26. He’d lost seven of his previous 10 starts and did not factor into the other three decisions.

“I know it’s been a tough year,” said Kennedy, who closed his season with a 5-13 record and 5.38 ERA. “We all know that. I said, ‘One of things I always have as a goal is throwing 30 starts.’ It was gonna be my eighth year in a row doing it.”

A sluggish Royals offense, which tallied nine hits and stranded eight runners, nearly spoiled Kennedy’s efforts.

The top of the order squandered former Royals starter Zack Greinke’s parting gift — two straight walks to lead off the fifth inning — when reliever David Hernandez threw just 11 pitches to retire the next three batters.

“There’s no way to go up there and not try to hit a homer at this point,” said Merrifield, who needs one more home run to reach 20 for the season. “I don’t want to go up there and try to hit it 500 feet. I still want to put a good swing on it. But there’s a little more consciousness in putting a driving swing on it.”

Those gathered at Kauffman Stadium watched Moustakas spray the ball around the field for a single in each of his first three at-bats, sending the crowd of 23,488 into Mooooose cheers on every occasion. They saw Hosmer provide a first-inning RBI on a ball that chopped in front of the plate, bounced onto the dirt between the Diamondbacks shortstop and rolled into short left-center field to give the Royals their first lead of the game.

And they saw Royals reliever Mike Minor record his fifth save moments before Salvador Perez threw a bucket of ice at Kennedy, who recorded his first win at home since Aug. 20, 2016. The victory snapped a club-record home winless streak at 18 starts.

“Now that I knew about it, get that monkey off my back and stop talking about it,” Kennedy said. “Maybe next year hopefully I can get that one out of the way, get the first one out of the way and win that one.”

Royals 2, Diamondbacks 1

Arizona

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Peralta lf

3

0

0

0

1

1

.291

Iannetta c

3

0

1

0

1

1

.254

2-Vargas pr

0

0

0

0

0

0

.111

Murphy c

0

0

0

0

0

0

.143

Goldschmidt 1b

4

0

0

0

0

3

.300

Martinez rf

4

0

1

0

0

2

.305

Lamb 3b

3

1

1

1

1

1

.250

Pollock cf

3

0

2

0

1

1

.267

Descalso 2b

4

0

0

0

0

1

.233

Drury dh

4

0

1

0

0

1

.267

Marte ss

3

0

0

0

0

0

.259

Totals

31

1

6

1

4

11

 

Royals

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Merrifield 2b

4

1

2

1

0

0

.289

Cain cf

4

0

1

0

0

1

.300

Cabrera rf

4

1

1

0

0

0

.287

Orlando rf

0

0

0

0

0

0

.193

Hosmer 1b

4

0

1

1

0

0

.317

Moustakas 3b

4

0

3

0

0

1

.274

Moss dh

3

0

1

0

1

2

.210

Escobar ss

4

0

0

0

0

2

.249

Gordon lf

2

0

0

0

1

1

.210

Butera c

1

0

0

0

2

0

.231

1-Gore pr

0

0

0

0

0

0

.000

Gallagher c

0

0

0

0

0

0

.286

Totals

30

2

9

2

4

7

 

Arizona

010

000

000

1

6

0

Royals

101

000

00x

2

9

0

1-ran for Butera in the 7th. 2-ran for Iannetta in the 8th.

LOB: Arizona 7, Kansas City 8. 2B: Iannetta (19), Martinez (26), Cabrera (30). HR: Lamb (30), off Kennedy; Merrifield (19), off Greinke. RBIs: Lamb (104), Merrifield (78), Hosmer (93). CS: Peralta (4), Merrifield (7).

Runners left in scoring position: Arizona 2 (Martinez, Pollock); Kansas City 3 (Cabrera, Moss, Gordon). RISP: Arizona 0 for 3; Kansas City 1 for 8. IDP: Martinez, Cabrera, Escobar. DP: Arizona 3 (Iannetta, Descalso), (Greinke, Descalso, Goldschmidt), (Marte, Descalso, Goldschmidt); Kansas City 2 (Butera, Merrifield), (Moustakas, Merrifield, Hosmer).

Arizona

I

H

R

ER

W

K

P

ERA

Greinke L, 17-7

4

6

2

2

2

4

75

3.20

Hernandez

1

0

0

0

0

0

11

3.13

Corbin

2.2

2

0

0

2

2

41

4.03

Rodney

0.1

1

0

0

0

1

8

4.31

Royals

I

H

R

ER

W

K

P

ERA

Kennedy W, 5-13

5

4

1

1

1

7

86

5.38

Moylan

0.2

1

0

0

0

1

10

3.51

Alexander

0.1

0

0

0

1

1

11

2.48

Herrera

1

1

0

0

0

0

11

4.25

Soria

1

0

0

0

1

0

17

3.60

Minor S, 5

1

0

0

0

1

2

15

2.58

Greinke pitched to 2 batters in the 5th.

Holds: Moylan (23), Alexander (9), Herrera (4), Soria (19). Inherited runners-scored: Hernandez 2-0, Alexander 1-0.

Umpires: Home, Alfonso Marquez; First, Chad Fairchild; Second, Dave Rackley; Third, Larry Vanover. Time: 2:59. Att: 23,488.