3 quick takeaways from a disappointing KC Royals Opening Day

Kansas City loses first game to Minnesota.
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The weather was beautiful, the crowd excellent, and the Opening Day trappings superb when the KC Royals and Minnesota launched their 2024 seasons at Kauffman Stadium Thursday afternoon.

But the ultimate result was bad for Kansas City and its fans. The Royals, losers of a club record-tying 106 games last season, dropped the first game of the new campaign 4-1, an outcome not that different from their 2-0 season-opening loss to the Twins last year. Hopefully, this year's defeat won't be the precursor to another miserable season.

The key takeaways?

Royals starter Cole Ragans definitely deserved better

Ragans, who pitched so well after Texas sent him to the Royals last summer as part of the Aroldis Chapman deal, proved manager Matt Quatraro made the right call when he named him the club's Opening Day starter. Pitching efficiently and confidently for six full innings, Ragans set a Royals Opening Day record with nine strikeouts and, although he surrendered the Twins' only two runs, pitched well enough to win.

What was out of his control, and hurt him the most, was his teammates' poor work at the plate. Give Minnesota starter Pablo López, who pitched seven innings and gave up only a run — Maikel García's leadoff homer in the first — the credit he inarguably deserves, but the fact remains that the Royals' bats never really woke up against him or the two relievers Minnesota skipper Rocco Baldelli deployed.

Doubles by MJ Melendez and Bobby Witt Jr. turned out to be the only extra-base hits the Royals mustered other than Garcías homer; only Adam Frazier, and Kyle Isbel scratched out singles.

None of those hits came with runners in scoring position and Kansas City didn't push a runner past first base after the third inning. They club finished 0-for-6 with RISP.

Kansas City's newcomers debuted with mixed results

Of the new Royals who saw action Thursday, only reliever Nick Anderson, who as the first pitcher to follow Ragans threw a scoreless seventh inning, and second baseman Frazier, who had one of the few Kansas City hits, had any success. Right fielder Hunter Renfroe didn't get a hit in three at-bats, and Chris Stratton gave up a pair of runs (one on a wild pitch), two hits, and two walks in the ninth.

The Royals big guns were pretty quiet

Closely akin to the team's overall poor day at the plate was the failure of the 2-through-6 hitters. Witt, first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino, catcher Salvador Perez, Melendez, and right fielder Hunter Renfroe combined to go 2-for-18, and none of them drove in a run.

And after Witt led off the ninth with a walk, Pasquantino grounded out, Perez struck out swinging, and Melendez flied out.

It was the kind of collective performance the Royals can't often have if if they hope to contend.

What's next for Kansas City?

The Royals have Friday off before facing the Twins at 3:10 p.m. CT Saturday for the second game of this three-contest series.

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