Cole Irvin barely slept Friday night and was a nervous wreck Saturday. But when he showed up to Kauffman Stadium on Sunday, Philadelphia Phillies manager Gabe Kapler knew the 25-year-old lefty was ready for his major league debut.
"We knew he was poised, we knew he was aggressive, we knew he was confident," Kapler said.
Spotty showers, or "duck weather" as Irvin called it, couldn't dampen his debut. Irvin threw seven innings of one-run ball, allowing five hits with one walk and five strikeouts to lead the Phillies to a 6-1 win over the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
Philadelphia scored six times in the fifth to break the game open. Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto hit a two-run double and Odubel Herrera followed with a two-run single to back Irvin (1-0).
"He stayed on the gas pedal the entire outing," Kapler said.
Seranthony Dominguez and Juan Nicasio each tossed a scoreless inning to close it out.
"Man, that was fun," Irvin said. "Big inning in the fifth, and just allowing J.T. to take me for a ride."
Kansas City has lost 12 consecutive series rubber games, a streak that stretches back to May 30 last year, when the Royals took two of three against Minnesota.
Irvin's strong start continued an impressive run by Philadelphia's rotation. Over their last 15 games, Phillies starters have a 2.36 ERA — second-best in the majors during that span.
Royals starter Jakob Junis (3-4) cruised through four innings but fell apart in the fifth. After Nick Williams reached on an error with one out, Junis walked three of the next four batters, the last one chasing him from the game.
"I got away from my command a little bit," Junis said. "My fastball started to move a little more. Couldn't make a pitch when I was 3-2, fell behind in the count a little bit when I needed to get ahead and it just came back to bite me."
Realmuto greeted Richard Lovelady with a first-pitch double down the right field line, and Herrera hit his two-run single two pitches later. Herrera and Jean Segura each had two hits for the Phillies, and Andrew McCutchen was on base four times via three walks and a single.
Despite allowing just three hits, Junis was tagged for five runs due primarily to five walks. Free passes were an issue all weekend for Royals pitchers, who walked 18 batters during the three-game set.
"They're learning that if you try to be too fine, you're not going to be successful in this league," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. "Either you can't throw strikes or you won't throw strikes, and neither one of them will keep you here long, or neither one of them are going to allow you to be successful. Our guys all can throw strikes. They've all got good stuff. They've just got to trust it."
Alex Gordon brought home the Royals' only run with an RBI single in the third. After the umpires initially ruled Billy Hamilton was thrown out at third base before Cam Gallagher crossed the plate, a replay review showed Hamilton beat the throw.
Hamilton and Gordon had two hits apiece for Kansas City.
Phillies slugger Rhys Hoskins, who lost his mom to cancer in 2009, added some extra decoration to his pink Mother's Day cleats. Hoskins wrote "Miss u mom" and the date she died on them, along with "humble" and "perseverance" near the toe. Both are words she instilled in Hoskins.
"Her will to live, her will to love, to be there for my sister and I, kind of embodied who she was as a woman and as a mother," Hoskins said. "She just would always remind me to make sure that I stay humble and that I'm a humble person. It was something that she always said to me and it stuck with me.
"I thought the shoes were a cool way to show love in a different way."
Before the game, the Phillies called up Irvin optioned LHP Austin Davis to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Davis had been recalled on Saturday.
Phillies: RHP Aaron Nola (3-0, 4.57 ERA) starts Monday night against Milwaukee in the opener of a seven-game homestand. Nola has given up just one run in each of his last three outings.
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy (1-1, 3.06 ERA) makes his fourth start of the year Tuesday night against Texas. Duffy held Houston to two runs over six innings in his last outing to earn his first win of the season.