The Royals home-opener showed every Kansas City fan what difference a year can do for a ball club.
A year ago, the excitement and buzz was definitely there and the young future stars were slotted into the game.
Everything was perfect, until the first-inning finally got underway. Then, everything went to hell.
Luke Hochevar served up seven earned runs on eight hits in the top of the first inning and all hope or excitement for success was sucked out of the stadium. The Royals dropped the home-opener 8-3 and went on to lose all 10 games of the first homestand as part of a 12 game skid.
No such feeling would be experienced this year.
Ervin Santana battled through an one-run, four-hit inning, but bounced back to secure his first win in a Royals jersey with eight very strong innings and seven strikeouts.
Offensively, the Royals were able to compile a few hits through out the game, but the magic really started in the eighth inning when Lorenzo Cain doubled to lead off the inning. Chris Getz was able move Cain to third with a sacrafice, setting up Alex Gordon. Gordon, who was presented with his Gold Glove prior to the game, flashed the bat in this instance by singling in Cain, to tie the game at 1-1. The momentum fully swung in favor of the Royals as Alcides Escobar pounded another double to right-field, scoring Gordon. The final nail in the coffin came when Silver Slugger Billy Butler, the hero from Sunday’s matinee with his first career grand slam, deposited a single to right-field and plating Escobar.
With both Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera not available out of the bullpen, Aaron Crow was called to the mound in the top of the ninth and picked up a strikeout and game-ending double to secure the Royals first home-opener win since 2008.
The major differences in this year’s home opener and years past was avoiding the melt down innings. Santana showed his resilience by surrending a run in the first, while going on to display the strong starting pitching the Royals have desperately needed. Even the hitters and base runners avoided the glaring mistakes which have plagued the franchise in recent years.
While everyone knows that pennants and divisions aren’t won solely in April, this is a win that many Royals’ fans are more than happy to celebrate.