Manny Machado doubled to right with one out in the first. Jonathan Schoop singled Machado in. Chris Davis singled sharply. And Trey Mancini scorched an RBI double.
"I felt like they were good pitches for the most part," Kennedy said. "Machado was a good fastball away, and he just poked it down the line. The [Mancini] double wasn't a good slider.
"When it happens in the first inning, you have to switch things up. You don't want your night to end that quick -- 15 pitches and they already have two runs."
Kennedy K's Smith
KC@BAL: Kennedy fans Smith in the 1st inning
Ian Kennedy strikes out Seth Smith on eight pitches for the final out in the bottom of the 1st inning
Kennedy, who had spun quality starts in six of his previous eight starts entering Tuesday, tried to make adjustments.
"You go into every start and have a game plan," Kennedy said. "And then you may have to change it quick sometimes. My down-and-away fastball was not working. I had to change to get some quicker outs."
Kennedy held the Orioles scoreless over the next two innings but was nicked for a run in the fourth. And by the fifth, his pitch count was approaching 90.
"They made a lot of at-bats long," Kennedy said. "Got my pitch count up. They had some good approaches."
Kennedy left with a runner on and none out in the fifth. He gave up eight hits and four runs on the night.
"I wouldn't say he was off," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He was fat the first inning. His command was off. Looking at the replays, I thought the pitches were center cut."
has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter Jeffrey Flanagan . This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. @FlannyMLB