SEATTLE (AP) — Seemed appropriate Mike Moustakas put his name in the Kansas City record book for home run hitting on the day he was added to the Home Run Derby festivities at the All-Star Game.
Moustakas hit his 23rd home run of the season — the most ever by a Royals’ player before the All-Star break — and Ian Kennedy allowed one run pitching into the seventh as Kansas City beat the Seattle Mariners 3-1 on Monday night.
Moustakas led off the second inning with the solo shot and gave the Royals a 2-0 lead against Seattle starter Andrew Moore. The 23 homers is also a new career-high for Moustakas, having twice hit 22 in a season.
“Just been getting good pitches to hit, putting good swings on them and they’ve been getting out of the yard,” Moustakas said. “It’s been working pretty good for me to this point.”
While Moustakas’ homer had no doubt, Alex Gordon’s fifth homer of the season may have been more impressive. Gordon broke his bat on the solo shot with two outs in the fifth, but was still able to get it over the wall in right just beyond the leap of Mitch Haniger. Moore said he heard the bat break and believed it was going to be a fly out until he saw the ball carrying toward the wall.
Lorenzo Cain added a sacrifice fly in the first inning as the Royals won for the fourth time in five games.
Kansas City needed a strong performance from Kennedy to help its bullpen and because Moore was nearly as good. Kennedy won his third straight decision, allowing one run on a wild pitch in the second inning and handing Seattle its fifth straight loss at home.
“We need a turn around here at home,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “The last few games at home we have not done much offensively.”
Kennedy (3-6) threw 6 2/3 innings, allowing just four hits and striking out seven. Seattle got its only run in the second inning, the only inning Kennedy permitted more than one runner to reach base. Kyle Seager scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch, but Kennedy recovered to strike out Mike Zunino and Boog Powell to end the threat.
“To get out of there with two strikeouts is big because it could have stopped any type of rally they could have had,” Kennedy said.
Peter Moylan, Neftali Feliz and Joakim Soria retired the final seven batters in order. Soria picked up his first save since April 13, 2016.
“This was (Soria’s) third night in a row, but what allowed us to do that was he was efficient in his first two outings … so we felt good about bringing him back for the third day in a save situation,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost said.
Moore (1-1) missed high in the strike zone early in the game, but avoided giving up any major damage and made it through eight innings in his second start. Moore allowed five hits and struck out three and became the third pitcher in Seattle history to throw at least seven innings in the first two starts of his career joining Erik Hanson and Enrique Romo.
“You never know what your stuff’s going to be game to game, so whatever is working you just have to ride that,” Moore said.
Moore will make one more start before the All-Star break and would appear to have a spot in Seattle’s rotation going forward.
Seattle slugger Nelson Cruz was expected to miss his second straight game with a sore knee, but came on as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning and struck out. Manager Scott Servais said before the game he was hopeful Cruz would return in the next few days.
Royals: Kansas City bolstered its bullpen by selecting Al Alburquerque from Triple-A Omaha on Monday. The Royals optioned left-hander Eric Skoglund to Omaha and transferred Matt Strahm to the 60-day disabled list. Strahm suffered a torn patellar tendon on Saturday.
Mariners: Right-handed reliever Dan Altavilla was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma to clear a roster spot for Moore. Seattle needed to carry an extra position player with Cruz still slowed by a sore knee. … Seattle traded Double-A pitcher Tyler Herb to San Francisco for cash considerations.
Royals: Danny Duffy (4-4) will return from the disabled list. Duffy has not started since May 28 due to an oblique strain. Duffy made two starts with Omaha.
Mariners: Felix Hernandez (3-2) makes his third start since coming off the disabled list. He got a no decision in his last outing against Philadelphia after allowing three runs over six innings.