KANSAS CITY -- Angels left-hander Tyler Skaggs' welcome back to the big leagues couldn't have gone any better.
And his matchup couldn't have been any more favorable. Skaggs, in his first Major League appearance since July 31, 2014, threw seven shutout innings as the Angels cruised to a 13-0 win over the free-falling Royals on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium. The Angels matched a season high with 22 hits.
It was the Angels' 12th win in their last 17 games, and their fifth win in five tries against the Royals.
"It was a fun game for me," Skaggs said. "It went a lot better than I expected, to say the least."
Skaggs, coming back from Tommy John surgery, gave up three hits, walked one and struck out five. Yunel Escobar had five hits for the Angels while catcher Carlos Perez had four hits, including his fifth homer. It was Escobar's fourth five-hit game since the start of 2015, more than any player in the Majors.
The Royals have lost four straight and 14 of 19. In their last 15 losses, they have averaged 2.4 runs per game. They dropped three games under .500 for the first time since June 6, 2014. Dillon Gee took the loss, giving up five runs in five innings.
"We just have to figure out what's going on here and find something to click for us, and something to carry us out through the season," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "It's frustrating. It's extremely frustrating. We just can't really get anything going."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Happy returns: Skaggs took the mound five days before the two-year anniversary of his last Major League game and pitched better than the Angels could've hoped. The 25-year-old walked the leadoff batter on four consecutive fastballs, then settled down, putting only two runners in scoring position all night. He threw his fastball 93-94 mph early on and featured a sharp curveball throughout. More >
"Once he got his feet on the ground, he was just bringing all of his pitches into the game," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He had his good, crisp fastball, good velocity, good changeup, good curveball, mixed his pitches up well. That's seven strong innings and very pitch-efficient, too."
"He was really good," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Skaggs. "We saw video of him against [Triple-A] Omaha and he was unbelievable. We saw a good fastball with a good tight curveball."
A chance, sort of: The Royals did appear close to getting to Skaggs in the third inning. Brett Eibner lined hard to left, then rookie Raul Mondesi, just called up and making his regular season debut, drove one deep to center for an out. Alcides Escobar smashed a single to center and Cheslor Cuthbert ripped a single to left. But Hosmer ended the string of hard-hit balls with a flyout to left.
"We were still in the game at that point, down 1-0," Yost said. "Mondi came up and hit a ball to deep center. We're just not finding any holes right now."
Pesky Esky: Escobar ripped a double, notched four singles and drew a walk, becoming the sixth man in the Majors to reach base six times this season and raising his batting average to .326, which would tie the career high he set in 94 games as a rookie in 2007. Escobar drove in a run and scored a couple of others. Teams in need of a third baseman -- or perhaps a shortstop or second baseman -- will no doubt look to trade for him this month.
Another Butera sighting: For the second time this season, Yost had to turn to a position player, catcher Drew Butera, to save his bullpen from the mound. Butera came in the ninth and got the final out of the inning, inducing a groundout from former Royal Johnny Giavotella. Butera pitched a scoreless inning earlier this season.
"It's a never a good thing when I have to pitch," Butera said. "Hopefully it's the last time."
"That's one good thing about him is he never worries about, like, 'I can't think about tomorrow; I have to think about today. So for a kid his age, that's pretty incredible.' He's in the present." -- Debbie Skaggs, Tyler's mom, on her son's long recovery from Tommy John surgery
FOR THE HIGHLIGHT REELS
Skaggs got some help from his defense in his return. To start the sixth, slick-fielding shortstop Andrelton Simmons barehanded a slow roller by the speedy Escobar and gunned him down at first. To start the seventh, Gold Glove Award-winning right fielder Kole Calhoun sprinted 74 feet, according to Statcast™, and made a diving catch to take away a hit from Kendrys Morales.
WHAT'S NEXT Angels: Right-hander Matt Shoemaker (5-10, 3.99 ERA) will get the ball on Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. PT against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Shoemaker has a 2.39 ERA over his last 12 starts, an 83-inning stretch in which he has struck out 93 and issued only 10 walks.
Royals: Left-hander Danny Duffy (6-1, 3.14) will get the start in the series finale on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. CT. Duffy got the win in his last outing, going 6 2/3 innings and yielding one run in a 3-1 triumph over the Rangers.
Alden Gonzalez has covered the Angels for MLB.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.