KANSAS CITY -- More often than not, Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy has done his job when called upon. He's made 12 quality starts this season and has allowed three runs or fewer in 18 of his 25 outings. But after he hit a rough patch in June, and then another toward the end of July, fans grumbled about the contract he signed in the offseason. The team wasn't winning, and neither was Kennedy. The Royals went 2-9 with him on the mound over June and July.
But since that time, the grumblings have evaporated. Kennedy continued his recent string of dominant outings in a 10-0 win over the Twins on Saturday, pitching eight shutout innings and giving up only four hits.
"That's five starts in a row where he's been completely in control. He's just been throwing the ball extremely well," manager Ned Yost said. "[He] didn't have his really good curveball tonight, but when he missed, he missed down with it."
Kennedy got off to a shaky start, dealing with a pair of baserunners with one out in the second inning, but he worked around it, getting out of the inning unscathed.
And sure enough, he got better as the game went on. After allowing the leadoff man to reach in the fifth, he allowed just one hit to the final 13 batters he faced. All six of his strikeouts came from the fifth inning on.
"Curveball and breaking stuff came a little later. I stayed alive with the fastball early on," Kennedy said.
The outing dropped Kennedy's ERA over his last five outings to 0.79, and it also put his name into the record books.
Saturday marked Kennedy's fifth consecutive start of at least six innings and one run or fewer, matching Larry Gura (1981) for the longest such streak in Royals history. Upon hearing about the feat, Kennedy was surprised that he was the one to do it, and not a different Royals pitcher.
"[Danny] Duffy hasn't done that yet? It seems like every time he's out there, he's doing that same thing," he said. "He's been a stud, I'm trying to keep up with him."
But even looking past the numbers, Kennedy acknowledged that this is the best he's felt for a while.
"Maybe in 2011," he said. "I feel like you go out there and you're not really searching for 'what's different today.' And if it's been different, I've been able to make those adjustments."
And those adjustments were just what the Royals needed, especially after Friday night, when the bullpen was asked to pitch 6 2/3 innings after a rain delay shortened Edinson Volquez's outing.
Kennedy ended up working through eight innings for the first time with the Royals. It was the longest start he'd made since he went eight innings with the Padres back on July 12, 2014.
"The bullpen needed a little break from last night. It was a long game," Kennedy said. "I wish that happened all the time. I wish I could go out [and] do that every single time."
Scott Chasen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Kansas City. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.