KANSAS CITY -- Khris Davis belted his fourth home run this season, and rookie right-hander Jharel Cotton was dominant through seven strong innings as the A's spoiled the Royals' home opener, 2-0, Monday at Kauffman Stadium.
Davis connected for a two-run opposite-field shot in the fourth inning. Ryon Healy had led off the inning with a bloop single to right.
Davis went after a 3-0 fastball from Royals starter Ian Kennedy and launched a towering fly ball to right-center field that carried into the seats.
"I didn't think he got all of it," Kennedy said. "Then I saw the wind kind of taking it. But he's strong."
Cotton bounced back from giving up five runs in 4 1/3 innings in his first start this season against the Angels. This time he relied heavily on his changeup and a hard slider that registered in the upper 80s. Cotton gave up two hits, walked three and struck out six.
"I think he just settled in quick," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We've seen him when he gets on a roll early, he's tough to deal with. If you get him out of his rhythm, then it's a bit more of a challenge for him. But to go seven innings like that and go through that lineup like that, that was the best we've seen him pitch."
Kennedy was more than serviceable through six innings. He gave up six hits and two runs, while walking two and striking out four.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Mowing 'em down: Cotton never faced any real trouble until the seventh inning when Eric Hosmer led off with a walk. A wild pitch moved Hosmer to second. But Cotton buckled down and got Salvador Perez to pop out, Brandon Moss to strike out swinging and induced a harmless flyout to center from Paulo Orlando.
"He was good," Perez said of Cotton. "No excuses, but it's hard to hit in the shadows with a 3:15 start. It's the same for both sides." More >
No wild comeback this time: The A's know a thing or two about amazing Royals comebacks in this ballpark (see 2014 AL Wild Card Game). So when A's left-hander Sean Doolittle faced lefty-hitting Moss with two on and two out in the ninth, visions of a game-winning three-run homer no doubt danced through the minds of Royals fans. It wasn't to be: Doolittle struck out Moss to end the game.
"It was a bit weird, just because I know what he's capable of and what he did in this ballpark for us," Doolittle said. "He's a presence in the box, and when he comes to the plate, especially under a pressure situation ... it definitely wasn't like, hey, cool, I'm facing my old friend here. It was intense."
"I'd say he was pretty tough on me," Mwilss said. "I didn't come close to hitting any of his heaters."
Yost said he and his staff discussed using righty-hitting Cheslor Cuthbert there but stuck with Moss.
"Left-handed pitching doesn't suppress his power," Yost said of Moss. "I was hoping he'd get one up in the wind."
"She doesn't speak much English," Yost said of Ventura's mother, Marisol Hernandez, who threw out the first pitch. "So we hugged. A hug is the universal language."
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Davis' home run in the fourth inning was hit well, with an exit velocity of 104.8 mph, according to Statcast™. But the key may have been the launch angle at 33 degrees. Davis hoisted the ball high up into a 17-mph wind blowing out toward right field, and it found the seats.
The Royals challenged an out call at second base on a double play in the sixth inning. With Mondesi on first, Alex Gordon grounded hard to first baseman Yonder Alonso, who threw to second base, covered by Trevor Plouffe with the shift on. Plouffe caught the ball ahead of Mondesi and threw back to first for an apparent double play. The Royals challenged that Plouffe came off the bag before the out at second was recorded, and were successful in the challenge.
WHAT'S NEXT A's: This series will pause for one day before resuming Wednesday with a 5:15 p.m. PT matchup. Right-hander Andrew Triggs, who was drafted by the Royals in the 19th round of the 2012 Draft, will be on the mound for the A's. He held the Angels to one unearned run across 5 2/3 innings in his season debut last week.
Royals: After an off-day Tuesday, the Royals return to action for Game 2 of the series against the A's at 7:15 p.m. CT as Jason Hammel makes his first start at Kauffman Stadium since signing with the Royals as a free agent in the offseason. Hammel gave up three runs over five-plus innings last Wednesday against the Twins and got a no-decision.