Some good, some bad mark Cactus League opener for KC Royals

Kansas City lost to Texas.

Mark Cunningham/GettyImages
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In the long run that will be the 2024 major league season, what the KC Royals did Friday in Arizona won't really matter. They kept their first Cactus League exhibition game of the spring close, but lost to Texas 5-4; because nothing counts until the regular campaign begins, the defeat was, and will remain, a non-factor.

At least record-wise, that is. And for the most part, the afternoon's individual performances probably won't figure prominently in the roster decisions manager Matt Quatraro and general manager J.J. Picollo will make before the club breaks camp late next month.

But some of the effort wasn't pretty.

Take the one-third of an inning reliever Jake Brentz worked, for example. The Royals' second pitcher of the day — starter Daniel Lynch IV threw a scoreless first inning — Brentz couldn't hold the 1-0 lead he inherited, giving the Rangers two runs via a concerning combination of four walks, a wild pitch, and an RBI single to former Royal Matt Duffy; he was also charged with a third run the Rangers scored after he departed.

Brentz's short day wasn't how he wanted to continue his comeback from 2022 Tommy John Surgery, a quest he hopes restores him to 2021 form and ends his almost two-year absence from the majors.

Promising pitching prospect Mason Barnett gave up a triple and single to start the Texas seventh and surrendered what proved to be the Rangers' winning run.

The Royals enjoyed some good individual performances against Texas

Encouraging, on the other hand, was the second-inning solo home run Drew Waters belted in his first at-bat of the spring. Waters is battling for a starting or reserve outfield slot and needs a strong Cactus League performance to avoid starting the season in the minors.

Matt Sauer, the pitcher Kansas City plucked away from the Yankees in December's Rule 5 Draft and must, subject to limited exceptions, keep on the 26-man roster this season or risk losing him, struck out three in the one inning he worked (although he gave up a run), and recent non-roster invitee Walter Pennington also fanned three in his only frame.

And Will Klein struck out two in the ninth.

Royals scoring highlights

Kansas City scored its four runs on Waters' homer, Nick Loftin's RBI double, a run-scoring single by minor league outfielder Joe Gray, and catcher Luca Tresh's RBI sacrifice fly.

The club faced former Royal star Danny Duffy

Danny Duffy, gone from Kansas City since a midsummer trade to the Dodgers in 2021, and whose injury issues have prevented him from throwing a regular season big league pitch since before then, pitched the fourth inning for Texas. He struck out one, but gave up a run on two hits.

What's next for Kansas City?

The Royals and Rangers face each other again Saturday at Surprise Stadium. Game time is set for 2:05 pm; the contest can be heard on royals.com.

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