You cannot expect the greatest baseball in the world in a spring training opener, but the KC Royals lost their sloppy Cactus League opener to their complex partner, the Texas Rangers, by an 11-7 score. The two teams combined for nine errors, four by the Royals, and two by Pedro Ciriaco at shortstop. Ciriaco is battling for one of the bench spots.
Veteran Bruce Chen got the start and threw 18 of his 26 pitches for strikes. However, he allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits over the first two innings. He gave way to lefty Danny Duffy, who is battling for the fifth starter’s spot. He looked good in striking Elvis Andrus out on three pitches. However, Prince Fielder blasted a home run well over the right field wall (some said it hit the street beyond the ballpark).
In the third, Duffy allowed a homer, a double, a single, and a walk, along with two wild pitches. Somehow, he only allowed two runs. In the fourth, Duffy used a slider that he is experimenting with and retired the side in order. Granted, he was facing the Rangers backups.
All in all, he allowed two runs on three hits and a walk over two innings. He struck out four. However, Duffy needed 37 pitches.
Though it was just the first game, lefty Donnie Joseph got a leg up on the competition for one of the final bullpen spots. He struck out the side. Joseph was forced to throw 16 pitches due to an error in the inning (in which he balked the runner to second base). Non-roster invitee Scott Alexander, another left-hander, threw a scoreless sixth.
Then things got interesting.
Non-roster invitee Cory Wade allowed five runs on four hits and a walk in the seventh. He threw 16 pitches and allowed a two out, two-run home run to Brent Lillibridge. Kelvin Herrera struggled in his one inning of work, allowing two runs (one earned) on a hit and a walk. He needed 19 pitches to get through his inning.
Minor leaguer Malcom Culver, who had a great 2013 season in the minors, threw a scoreless ninth.
On offense for the Royals, it was all about the bench. As a team, they collected 11 hits. Nine of those hits came from the backups.
Johnny Giavotella went 2-for-3 with a double, a run scored, and an RBI. He played second base. Brandon Laird, who is a non-roster invitee that played first base, went 1-for-2 with an RBI (he was also hit by a pitch). Justin Maxwell went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer. That came in the seventh, as he played left field. Danny Valencia, who came in to play third base, hit a solo homer in the sixth. Jason Donald, who was a replacement at shortstop, went 2-for-3 with a run scored.
The two teams match up again on Friday, with the Rangers as the home team. James Shields will get the start for the Royals, with Chris Dwyer, Jason Adam, Sugar Ray Marimon, Everett Teaford, Michael Mariot, and Tim Collins scheduled to get some work. Alexi Ogando will get the start for the Rangers and is expected to pitch the first two innings. He will be followed by Jose Contreras, Matt West, Cory Burris, ex-Royal Nate Adcock, Pedro Figueroa, and Armando Rodriguez.