It was almost Turn Back the Clock night at The K on Tuesday. Almost.
Lorenzo Cain returned to Kansas City, thanks to the interleague schedule that mandated a trip for the Brewers. He was greeted by his hermanito Salvador Perez during a pregame met with the local media. (More on Perez in a moment.) He was serenaded by the KC faithful when he emerged from the visiting dugout and once again when he ran sprints into the outfield. He was greeted warmly by Perez at home as he led off the game. And he made his way around the horn, exchanging pleasantries, once he grounded out to first base.
You have to give the people what they want, and LoCain provided the moment by launching a baseball into the teeth of a ferocious jet stream in the seventh for a home run. Fans didn’t care. They know this season is already chapter one in a rebuilding process, so damn the unfamiliar color of Milwaukee blue, he’s going to get his ovation. Cain didn’t have much to do in the outfield, but did manage to range to his left to track down a fly ball off the bat of Alcides Escobar in the third. They say familiarity breeds contempt, but that’s not true. Not in this case. There was something comforting watching Cain patrol the acreage of the outfield at The K.
Tuesday was also about the return of Perez, who made his season debut. He hit the ball sharply a couple of times and then launched one 369 feet for a home run. According to Statcast, a batted ball with that particular profile (97 mph off the bat and a 32 degree launch angle) is a hit just 35 percent of the time. That Perez turned it into a round tripper against that gale blowing in from the north, was somewhat impressive. The Royals have missed his bat. He’s not a savior (the Royals may be beyond needing that at this point), but production is production.
And Alex Gordon was back, too! He was in right field but says he’s anxious to spend some time in center. As good as Gordon is defensively, he’s not going to make you forget about LoCain in the middle of the outfield. Still, his glove was missed. (We’ll discuss his bat tomorrow.) Gordon contributed with his best batted ball of the season, a double leading off the fifth inning, and came around to score on a couple of productive outs. Productive outs. Forever Royal.
Starter Ian Kennedy was only able to go three innings after taking one off his plant foot. He made it through the frame, but not before pulling off a pitch to Travis Shaw who splashed it into the fountains in right. It was a three run shot and the ultimate difference. Kennedy will wear a protective boot to remove the pressure from his foot and will be reevaluated on Wednesday.
But credit to the bullpen. They held firm over six innings, surrendering just a single run, to keep the Royals in the game. Hey, Blaine Boyer sliced his ERA from 22.50 to 16.88. It may not show in the win column, but that’s a victory.