SEATTLE — The Royals have allowed so many home runs this season. More than anyone in baseball, in fact.
But none are likely to have traveled much farther — or faster — than the second of the two homers Ian Kennedy gave up in Kansas City’s 4-1 loss to the Mariners on Friday night.
Mike Zunino sent Kennedy’s centered, 2-2 fastball in the fifth inning to the next-to-last row of the second deck, nearly out of Safeco Field. It was tracked by Statcast™ at 116 mph.
That was one inning after Mitch Haniger hit the 16th home run this season off Kennedy, the Major League-leading 117th homer allowed by the Royals in 2018.
The blasts were enough to send Kansas City to its 20th loss in 25 games to the soaring Mariners in the opener of this three-game series.
Kansas City’s pitchers have allowed 129 runs while going 5-20 this month. Now they are waiting to see how Kennedy (1-8) wakes up Saturday from the pain in his side that caused manager Ned Yost to pull him after five innings and three hits allowed.
Yost called taking out Kennedy “a precaution.”
“It happened when I threw that last pitch to Zunino. I felt it grab,” Kennedy said. “The rest of the inning it just stayed tight. The last couple pitches I was compensating for it. I knew I could still pitch with it, but the right thing to do was to say something.
“I mean, I would say it’s pretty mild. But I think the real test is how I wake up [Saturday].”
The Royals couldn’t put enough hits together to pick up Kennedy while facing Mariners starter Marco Gonzales (8-5).
Whit Merrifield led off the game with a single and got bunted to second on a sacrifice by Rosell Herrera. But Gonzales then picked off Merrifield at second base.
And with one out in the fourth inning, Herrera sliced a double that went off left fielder Denard Span’s glove after a long run to the warning track. Mike Moustakas then lined a one-hop infield single off Kyle Seager’s wrist at third base. But Salvador Perez swung at the second of consecutive changeups from Gonzales and hit into an inning-ending double play.
Moustakas’ RBI single with two outs in the ninth kept the Royals from being shut out for the fourth time this month.
“He did a good job of kind of establishing in, getting us looking in, then getting us out away,” Yost said of Gonzales. “We got as many hits as they did. But they outslugged us.”