The Kings of Kauffman writers are recapping each month of the 2021 KC Royals season. We start today with April.
April was the fresh start to a fresh year for the KC Royals. After coming off a record of 26-34 in 2020, fans were eager to see what Manager Mike Matheny could to accomplish in a full season.
Although preseason PECOTA projections predicted the club would land in fourth place in the American League Central with a record of 71-91, there was excitement in the air after the Royals made a few big offseason signings. Fans were anxious to see longtime rival Carlos Santana in Royal blue, find out how Andrew Benintendi would fare as Alex Gordon’s replacement, and what Michael A. Taylor would bring to the table.
Then came the first of Adalberto Mondesi’s three injuries, which created defensive and offensive holes Kansas City needed to fill. Soft-hitting Nicky Lopez was the best available option on Opening Day.
With mystery surrounding how the Royals would do, fans were in for a treat when April proved to be one of the best first months in club history. Kansas City started well and moved into first place in the Central with an April 14 win over the Angels, and still led the Division with a 15-9 record when the month ended.
The KC Royals broke some club records and four players reached milestones.
It didn’t take long for the Royals to make a splash—they slugged their way to a club Opening Day record 14 runs in their victory against Texas. They also had 15 hits to break the first game team record they set in their very first season opener in 1969. And the game proved to be the longest nine-inning contest in club history at 4 hours, 26 minutes.
The Royals took two of three games against the Rangers to start the campaign 2-1, including a second game 11-4 victory that, together with Opening Day’s 14 runs, gave them the second-most runs scored in the first two games of a KC season. (The 1974 team scored 27).
Besides breaking some opening series team records, four players reached career milestones in April. Salvador Perez became the 13th player in Royals history to reach 1,000 hits when he swatted an RBI single against the Angels April 12.
Danny Duffy, who had a hot April (more on that later), achieved a major milestone when he notched his 1,000th career strikeout April19 against the Rays. He became the sixth pitcher in team history to reach that mark, joining Kevin Appier (1,458), Mark Gubicza (1,366), Dennis Leonard (1,323), Bret Saberhagen (1,093), and Paul Splittorff (1,057).
Newcomer Santana drew his 1,000th walk during the month, and Jorge Soler doubled for the 100th time in his career.