KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Josh Fleming pitched two-hit ball into the sixth inning, Kevin Kiermaier led a strong effort from the bottom of Tampa Bay’s batting order and the Rays beat the Kansas City Royals 4-1 Monday night.
Fleming (1-1) struck out three in 5 1/3 innings, getting big cheers from friends and family who journeyed over from his hometown of Bridgeton, Missouri. The 24-year-old left-hander has allowed just one run in 10 1/3 innings this year.
“I didn’t hear them when I was pitching,” Fleming said. “Once I got taken out, I heard a big cheer. It was just awesome.”
Relievers Ryan Thompson and Hunter Strickland carried the baton out of the bullpen and held Kansas City to two hits, both in the eighth. Chris Mazza shut the door in the ninth.
“It was just a really well-pitched game by Fleming and the rest of the relievers,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Danny Duffy (2-1) struck out eight in six innings and allowed two runs — neither earned — and four hits with two walks.
“Duffy was fantastic today,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “He continues to impress us and made pitches all the way through.”
Kiermaier had two hits and two RBIs from the nine-hole and combined with seven-hitter Joey Wendle and eight-hitter Willy Adames for five of Tampa Bay’s seven hits.
“Kiermaier came up big for us,” Cash said. “(Kiermaier) does a lot of things on a nightly basis to help us win and his bat is going to get going maybe today was the start of it.”
Duffy held to Rays to only one baserunner until the fifth, when Wendle singled with two outs. Wendle scored from first on an error by first baseman Carlos Santana on a high infield popup, which highlighted a two-run inning.
“I know that’s one Carlos would tell you he should’ve had,” Matheny said.
Kiermaier added an RBI single in the ninth.
Kansas City threatened in the eighth with two on and one out with Whit Merrifield at the plate, but he struck out to end the rally. Jorge Soler drove in the Royals’ run in the ninth with a sacrifice fly.
Duffy notched his 1,000th career strikeout in the fourth inning and passed Tom Gordon for sixth in club history.
“It’s something I knew I was approaching,” Duffy said. “When it happened and my boys congratulated me it meant a lot. I’m thankful to be here as long as I have.”
The longtime Royal has spent 11 seasons in the majors, all in Kansas City, one of three pitchers to do so.
Rays: RHP Chris Archer (right lateral forearm tightness) is eligible to return off the 10-day injured list on April 21st but did not make the trip to Kansas City.
Royals: SS Adalberto Mondesi (strained right oblique) remains on the 10-day injury list. The 25-year-old has yet to suit up for the Royals this season.
Rich Hill (1-0, 7.53) will pitch for Tampa Bay on Tuesday. Hill will be the sixth consecutive southpaw starter that the Royals will face — the longest stretch in franchise history. Right-hander Brad Keller (1-1, 9.58) will make his fourth start of the season for Kansas City.