It was a home sweet homecoming for the Kansas City Royals as they beat the Yankees 5-2 at opening day at Kaufmann Stadium.
Royal’s fans got a glimpse of what manager Trey Hillman will do when the Royals get on the base paths. It started in the first inning when Joey Gathright singled to center. On a called pitch out, Gathright was able to steal second. With a 2-2 count Mark Grudzielanek, Hillman called a hit and run and Gathright advanced to third, then scored on a Mark Teahen double. Then he had Teahen attempt a hit and run in consecutive at bats with Jose Guillen and Billy Butler. In fact, Joey Gathright would steal three bases on the day, twice on pitchouts to second and a steal of third base.
The cold, windy weather really affected starter Brian Bannister. In the second inning, Bannister got the first two outs, but Jorge Posada singled with two strikes on him. Bannister would then walk three batters in the inning and the Yankees jumped out to a 2-1 lead. Bannister settled down and managed to leave the game getting in five innings and throwing 97 pitches. Despite walking four, Bannister struck out six.
The Royals manufactured a run in the 2 nd , after a single and error put Alex Gordon on second, he was moved over by Gload to third and scored on a SAC fly by John Buck. The Royals came away with another run in the 3 rd , then chased Yankee starter Phil Hughes in the fourth after Gathright’s single, two stolen bases, and an RBI single by Mark Grudzielanek. In the fifth, the Royals opened up the game with a single by Billy Butler and double by Alex Gordon. Then Ross Gload singled them both in.
Alex Rodriquez who has had some big games against the Royals struck out four times in the game. A-Rod had hit career homers 499 and 500 against the Royals, but came up empty handed as the Yankees as a team struck out ten times. Ron Mahay, Ramon Ramirez, Leo Nunez, and Joakim Soria combine for four shutout innings.
Jet lag may have been a problem for the Yankees. After a home game with Tampa Bay the night before, they arrived in Kansas City at 3am and didn’t get to their hotel until 4am, then got to the ballpark at 10:30.