Royals use home runs to slug past Padres, 8-5

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The Royals’ quest for the Cactus League crowd took a pleasant turn against the Padres, as they won their first game of the spring over San Diego 8-5.

Brad Keller was roughed up a bit in his spring debut, as after retiring Padres superstar Fernando Tatis Jr., he allowed back-to-back hits against Josh Naylor (a single) and Manny Machado (a two-run home run), which gave the Padres an early 2-0 lead. He bounced back to retire old friend Eric Hosmer, as well as Jurickson Profar to end his only inning of work.

The Royals responded in the bottom of the second after a hitless inning by Rule V draft pick Stephen Woods Jr. Cam Gallagher his first of three big hits on the day, as he drove in Matt Reynolds with a double to put the Royals on the board. Woods gave the run back in the top of the third however, as he allowed a leadoff double against Tatis, with Naylor following it up with an RBI single to score him. Woods then settled down to induce three straight flyouts to Khalil Lee in left field to end the inning.

Lee would then lead off the bottom of the inning in a booming fashion, as he belted his first home run of the spring to draw the Royals within one run. The scoring continued the next inning with Gallagher picking up his second double of the afternoon to score Bubba Starling.

After scoreless innings from Jake Newberry and Josh Staumont, who struck out Tatis with a 99 mph fastball, Greg Holland made his first appearance as a Royal in nearly four and a half years, toeing the rubber with his new No. 35. Holland did not use his trademark slider during the appearance, but instead relied on his curveball and mostly sat in the low 90s with his fastball, which was to be expected coming into camp. He made quick work of San Diego, getting three straight outs.

After most of the lineup had been replaced by minor leaguers, Jorge Soler took his final at-bat of the day and crushed a go-ahead home run to dead center field onto the berm at Surprise Stadium for his second homer of the spring. Later in the inning, Gallagher once again had an RBI knock to score Starling, which provided a key insurance run. Gallagher, who came into the spring expecting to compete with Meibrys Viloria and Nick Dini for the backup catcher spot, gave himself an early edge with his three-hit game. He was later relieved by Dini, who picked up a hit of his own later on.

The game was blown open in the bottom of the seventh, as a Ryan McBroom walk and Kevin Merrell double set the scene for MJ Melendez’ first hit of the spring, a three-run home run to give the Royals the 8-5 advantage. Gabe Speier allowed two runs in one third of an inning to allow the Padres to climb to within two, but Randy Rosario shut the door as he got out of the eighth inning and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up the save. This was Mike Matheny’s first win as the Royals’ manager, albeit only in Spring Training.

Other things of note from the game include Salvador Perez making his first appearance in the field, getting the start at first base. He went 0-2 with a strikeout. Maikel Franco was also hit in the face by a throw in an early morning practice. The Royals seem to have avoided the worst, as head athletic trainer Nick Kenney said that he’s fine.

The Royals will stay in Surprise tomorrow, but will be the road team as they will face the Texas Rangers for the second time this spring. Jorge Lopez will get his second start of the spring, while Taylor Hearn will get the ball for the Rangers.

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Author: Alex Burbidge

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