Just in case the NCAA basketball championship game took you away from baseball Monday evening, the news out of Kansas City was finally good. The KC Royals, scorers of only four runs in their first three games, a feat they managed by plating them all Sunday afternoon against Minnesota, erupted for nine Monday and beat Toronto 9-5 for their first win.
Most notable about the victory, besides the fact every Royal in the previously-quiet lineup but one (Nate Eaton) smacked at least one hit, were MJ Melendez and Brady Singer. Melendez collected his first two hits of the season, including this impressive two-run homer in the sixth:
And Singer, about whom some worried after he saw so little action in the World Baseball Classic, eased through the Twins' lineup for five innings, giving up only a run on two hits. Other than the three walks he issued, he looked up to snuff.
And speaking of first wins, the victory marked the first as a big league manager for new KC skipper Matt Quatraro.
A prominent former KC Royals player returned to The K, but where was he?
Kansas City fans last saw Whit Merrifield Aug. 1 when he went 1-for-4 with a home run against the White Sox in Chicago. Long the subject of trade rumors, he was gone the next day to the Blue Jays in the deal that brought Samad Taylor and Max Castillo to the Royals, a surprising development because his vaccination status prevented him from playing against Toronto in Canada just the month before.
Much was made in the last few days about Merrifield's first post-trade visit to Kansas City, which occurred Monday when the Jays arrived at Kauffman Stadium for the first game of this week's four-contest series against the Royals. How, considering his pre-trade comments that suggested playing for a contending team that needed to pay in Canada might alter his vaccination position, would fans greet him?
That question remains unanswered because Merrifield didn't play Monday night. But he and Salvador Perez seemed to get along well in a pre-game encounter:
While the KC Royals lost their first three games, Omaha won its first three
Mike Jirschele, who's skippered Omaha to more wins than any other manager, has returned to his old job with the Royals' Triple-A affiliate after spending several years as a KC coach and the last three campaigns coaching in Kansas City's minor league system.
So far, he has to love what he's seen.
Omaha swept Indianapolis in its season-opening three-game road series that ended Sunday. Pitchers Collin Snider, Drew Parrish and Jackson Kowar each won their first games: Snider pitched a scoreless inning Friday to help the Chasers overcome a three-run deficit in the last two innings and win 8-6, Parrish was the first out of the pen in Saturday's 12-1 win and held Indy at bay for three frames after starter Austin Cox didn't allow a run and struck out five in his three innings and, in Omaha's 8-3 victory Sunday, Kowar fanned four and didn't give up a run in three innings.
And at the plate? Samad Taylor and Maikel Garcia, whose hot Cactus League performances (Taylor's two homers, seven RBIs and .360/.414/.760 line in 13 games, and Garcia's homer run, six RBIs and .324/.343/.471 in 14 games) had some wondering if they both might make the Opening Day roster, are each 6-for-14. Taylor has a homer and six RBIs and Garcia has driven in eight runs headed into tonight's home opener against Toledo.
Picking up some loose ends with some former KC Royals stars
What are a few ex-Royals up to early in the season?
The Cubs' Eric Hosmer started the campaign 0-for-7, but came alive Sunday, going 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs in Chicago's 7-6 loss to Cincinnati.
Mike Moustakas is 1-for-6 so far for the Rockies.
And Danny Duffy, who hasn't pitched in the majors since the Royals dealt him to the Dodgers at the 2021 trade deadline, and who signed with Texas over the winter, started the season on Triple-A Round Rock's Injured List. He's still trying to come back from the left flexor issue that derailed the excellent season (4-3, 2.51 ERA) he was having for Kansas City before the club moved him to LA.