Chen delivers the goods vs. Tigers

Chen delivers the goods vs. Tigers

KANSAS CITY -- Bruce Chen likes a good joke. He's the Royals' resident comedian.

So the left-hander had a good laugh when he learned that actor Will Ferrell and some of his comedian buddies were cheering for him during his 7-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Friday night.

"I guess Will Ferrell was telling me, 'Let's go, Chen! Throw strikes, Chen!' Something like that," Chen said. "But for him to say my name, I feel good."

A lot of folks were saying Chen's name after he'd shut out the Tigers for the first five innings and emerged the winner as 21,930 fans watched at Kauffman Stadium.

For instance, his catcher, Jason Kendall, who helped out with three RBIs in a perfect 3-for-3 night at the plate. Behind the plate, Kendall saw a perfectly competent Chen.

"He pitched real well, he kept them off-balance. He used his fastball a lot, changed speeds on it and used all four of his pitches on both sides of the plate," Kendall said. "He knows how to pitch -- that's a good lineup over there."

Chen again filled in for sore-shouldered starter Gil Meche, holding the Tigers scoreless on three hits for five innings. After he walked Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera to start the sixth, he'd thrown 91 pitches and was tiring.

Out of the bullpen came Kyle Farnsworth, who on his first pitch served up a juicy fastball to rookie Brennan Boesch. When last seen it was traveling 413 feet over the right-field fence, a home run that sliced the Royals' lead to 4-3. Two of the runs, of course, were charged to Chen.

"[Farnsworth] came in and was on the attack and tried to throw strike one and the kid hit it out of the park," said Royals manager Ned Yost. "I don't really want him to hit a three-run homer there, but I'm proud he went after him, trying to get ahead. That's what we asked him to do. Then he shut it down from there on down."

The Royals built a 4-0 lead against right-hander Max Scherzer, who had pitched college ball down I-70 at Mizzou, but now they needed more runs. And they got three in the bottom of the sixth.

After Alberto Callaspo's leadoff single prompted Scherzer's departure, reliever Ryan Perry got two outs but then was zinged as Yuniesky Betancourt, Scott Podsednik and Kendall got successive singles. Kendall's hit was lined over the second baseman into right field for the final two runs.

"He's a perfect situational hitter," Yost said. "If you can get two-out RBIs, you're going to be in good shape and Jason got three of 'em for us tonight."

Kendall has been a Tigers killer this year, going 13-for-27, .481, against them. His perfect night also included a walk. Podsednik scored three runs for the first time this season and David DeJesus had two RBIs and boosted his average to .304.

After giving up the home run, Farnsworth muscled up and ended the inning with three strikeouts. Robinson Tejeda worked two scoreless innings and newcomer Kanekoa Texeira pitched a scoreless ninth.

But, as Yost put it: "To me, the story of the game was Bruce Chen. Bruce came in again and just did a wonderful job, picking us up and keeping them off the scoreboard, getting us into the sixth inning with some room to play with."

Even Tigers manager Jim Leyland nodded in Chen's direction, although he seemed a bit weary of such praise after losing seven of the last 10 games.

"He pitched good," Leyland said. "I don't want to take anything away from him, but we can't keep saying everybody pitches good. This is the big leagues. If you're saying every night that somebody pitched good, then you got problems. Every now and then you have to hit good."

This was Chen's second start as Meche's replacement and it won't be his last. Although the Royals hoped that Meche, out with a sore shoulder, would make his next scheduled start, that's apparently not going to happen.

"I'd imagine Bruce is going to start again," Yost said. "I don't anticipate Gil coming back and making that start."

His audience probably won't include the illustrious Ferrell, who was joined by fellow actor-comedians Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis and Rob Riggle, who were in town for a show. The latter trio threw out simultaneous first pitches and Ferrell later joined them in the dugout suite on the third-base side. There they cheered for Chen.

Chen couldn't hear them at the time but was told about it later. He hopes that Ferrell might invite him to Hollywood to watch him make a movie.

But Chen, despite his joke-making appearances on the Royals' scoreboard screen, doubts that he'd get a role.

"I don't think I'm as funny as him," Chen said. "He's famous, he's an actor and he's done it for a long time. He's good."

On the mound Friday night, so was Chen.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.