Kansas City Royals base runners Kendrys Morales (25) and Eric Hosmer (35) talk with third base coach Mike Jirschele (23). Photo by Jeff Moffett/UPI | License Photo
PHILADELPHIA -- With the hot bat usual designated hitter Kendrys Morales is swinging, Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost has been hesitant to take the 33-year-old Cuban out of the lineup during this recent stretch of five straight games at National League parks.
Yost's intuition proved to be right again on Saturday night.
Morales had two home runs and four RBIs while Danny Duffy pitched 8 2/3 stellar innings as Royals topped the Phillies, 6-2, on Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park.
With his efforts on Saturday, Morales is now 26-for-46 with five doubles, seven home runs and 21 RBIs over his last 12 games.
"I feel really good at the plate and the key is I'm making hard contact when I'm swinging the bat," Morales said through the Royals' team interpreter.
After a Maikel Franco RBI infield single gave Philadelphia (36-46) a 1-0 lead in the first inning, Morales drilled a three-run homer, his 13th of the season, off the scoreboard in right field off of Phillies starter Aaron Nola to cap a five-run outburst for the Royals in the top of the second.
Morales gave Kansas City (43-37) some insurance in the top of the eighth when he took reliever Adam Morgan deep to left for his 14th homer of the season and fourth in three games.
It marked the second time in his career he homered from both sides the plate during the same game.
"Pitch selection is key for me," Morales said. "When I see a pitch I can drive, I'm going to swing at it. Things are going good right now."
Initially, Yost thought defense could be an issue for Morales, who hadn't played in the outfield since 2008 when he was with the Los Angeles Angels and before the serious leg injury that cost him the entire 2011 season.
But Yost said he's been thrilled with what he's seen from Morales in the outfield this week in St. Louis and Philadelphia.
"It's worked out really good," Yost said. "The first couple of days it was like, 'OK, I'm really interested to see this happen.' But now, this has worked out really, really well for us. ... He hasn't hurt us. It's been a real pleasant surprise."
Kansas City's starting pitcher wasn't too bad himself on Saturday.
Duffy (4-1) was dominant and shut down a Philadelphia offense that averaged 6.1 runs per game over its last 10 contests. He was one out away from his first complete game before a Cesar Hernandez single pushed Yost to bring in Joakim Soria for the final out.
It was the second straight masterful start for Duffy, who struck out eight and gave up just six hits over eight innings in a 6-2 win over St. Louis on Monday.
"Everything was working well for him. Throwing strikes with fastballs, curveballs, changeups. He was working on the attack." Yost said of Duffy. "He managed his pitch count well so he could pitch that 8 2/3."
Duffy even picked up his first major league hit and RBI in the second inning when he bunted a ball over the head of Nola to a spot where no infielder could make a play.
Philadelphia's starter found himself still stuck at the other side of the spectrum, but there were some signs of encouragement.
Nola (5-8) lost again and was undone by Kansas City's huge second inning. The 23-year-old righty has lost four of his last five starts and has a 13.50 ERA in that span. But after the second inning, he retired nine straight Royals before being pulled for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the fifth.
"Other than that one inning, he looked like his old self," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said of Nola, who was expected to anchor the team's rotation this season after impressing with a 6-2 record and 3.59 ERA in his rookie year of 2015.
"That was encouraging, to say the least. ... It looked like he finally started relaxing and not trying to do too much. He looked like his old self."
Saturday's loss snapped Philadelphia's four-game win streak.
NOTES: Phillies SS Freddy Galvis was not in the starting lineup because of what manager Pete Mackanin called "groin tightness." He pinch-hit for Nola in the 5th and struck out ... Andres Blanco, the only Phillies player to have a previous at-bat against Duffy, started at shortstop and batted third. ... The Royals were only 15-26 on the road this season entering Saturday. They averaged a MLB-worst 3.2 runs per game away from Kauffman Stadium. ... Royals SS Alcides Escobar extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a single in the second inning. ... Duffy had held lefties to a .163 batting average this season. He still has not allowed a homer to a left-handed batter during a regular-season game since Aug.