Despite a seventh-inning scare, the Royals cruised past the visiting Pale Hoes, putting runs on the board in the second and third innings off of Chicago offseason acquisition Jeff Samardzija and never looking back.
Facing Jose Abreu to commence the seventh inning, Yordano Ventura yielded a mammoth dong on a grooved 95-MPH fastball. With the count two balls, no strikes to the next batter Adam LaRoche, Yordano Ventura delivered a 96-MPH fastball low and away that got fouled off and after a beat ran to the grass to the first-base side of the mound wincing, eventually laying down on the ground clutching his hand. Nick Kenney came out and tried to massage Ventura's hand, but caution prevailed, and Ventura made his way to the Royals' clubhouse having thrown just 81 pitches. Reports later confirmed that it was just a cramp in his right thumb, but hearts were in throats for about 20 minutes in the sellout crowd at Kauffman Stadium.
With efficacy that would make the team occupying the dugout across the diamond salivate enviously, Kelvin Herrera came in down 2-1 to LaRoche and with a scant six pitches finished off three Pale Hoes to get out of the inning.
Nursing a 4 - 1 lead at this point, the potent (?) Royals offense decided to put the beat-down on the South Side Nine, plating five runs in a seventh inning in which they drove Samardzija from the game, ran through a second reliever in the form of Dan Jennings--and thanks to some shoddy defense from Alexei Ramirez, who should have ended the inning on an Alex Gordon grounder up the middle that turned into a two-run single--and finally got to face former Phillies'/Jays' prospect Kyle Drabek, who let Alex Rios hang a rally-killing dong before the five-run frame came to a merciful end.
Whether it was Yordano Ventura, Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, or Ryan Madson, the Royals pitchers made quick work of the Pail Hoes. Ventura allowed four hits, one walk, one hit batsman, and struck out two, allowing just that one run on the Jose Abreu dong hanging.
Whether it was Jeff Samardzija, Dan Jennings, or Kyle Drabek on the mound for Chicago, the Royals had little trouble getting the offense going.
With this lineup, it was as if Ned Yost was the Puppet Master. His newfangled batting order built on the foundation of two low-OBP men atop the order yielded big results in its first chance to prove the naysayers wrong. Alcides Escobar and Mike Moustakas each drew walks. Moustakas reached on an infield squibber that went against the shift. Escobar doubled. Each reached safely three times. And Moustakas hung an oppo dong.
Of course it wasn't just Escobar and Moustakas who punished Chicago. The only Royal who didn't reach safely was Omar Infante. Eric Hosmer was the only other who didn't reach more than once. Kendrys Morales drew three walks and doubled. Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon each singled and trotted to first after being hit by pitches. Alex Rios and Lorenzo Cain each stole bases. Alex Rios and Mike Moustakas each hung dong for the first time this season. It was a well-rounded attack, and there seemed to be little discernible difference between what this offense did and what the team that steamrolled through the American League playoffs did all last October.
It is only one game, of course, but it was a drubbing and a great way to start off the 2015 season.