Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Royals Top Yanks, 5-2, in Home Opener

Six Royals players collected two hits each, and right-hander Brian Bannister (2-0) held the New York Yankees to five hits over five innings, as Kansas City won its home opener, 5-2, on Tuesday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.

The win, in front of a crowd of 37,296 on a cold and damp day in Kansas City, improved the Royals' record to 5-2, while New York fell to 4-4.

Center fielder Joey Gathright had an outstanding day, going 2-for-4 at the plate, stealing three bases, and scoring twice for the Royals. The speedy Gathright, who is taking advantage of extra playing time while starting center fielder David DeJesus recovers from a sprained ankle, now has five stolen bases this season to tie for the lead in the American League.

Gathright led off the bottom of the first inning by reaching on a single to center field, stole second, moved over to third on a grounder to shortstop by Mark Grudzielanek, and scored on a double to center by left fielder Mark Teahen.

Bannister, who struggled with his control in the chilly weather, gave up two second-inning runs to the Yankees, but that was it. He walked four, but struck out six Yankees, including three whiffs of 2007 A.L. MVP Alex Rodriguez, who struck out four times in four at bats on Tuesday.

With the game tied 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth, Gathright used his speed to put the Royals ahead to stay. He singled to left field to lead off the inning, stole second base, then stole third base, and scored on a single to right by Grudzielanek.

Kansas City stretched its lead to 5-2 in the fifth, when designated hitter Billy Butler reached on a single, third baseman Alex Gordon doubled to center, and both runners scored on a single to center by first baseman Ross Gload.

Bannister handed the 5-2 lead to the bullpen, and it didn't let him down, as Ron Mahay (1.1 IP, 2 H, 2 K), Ramon Ramirez (0.2 IP, 1 K), Leo Nunez (1.0 IP, 2 K), and Joakim Soria combined to hold New York scoreless on just two hits over the final four innings. Kansas City pitchers combined to strike out 11 Yankees, and Soria earned his fourth save of the season by working a perfect ninth.

Gathright, Grudzielanek, Teahen, Butler, Gordon, and Gload were the six Royals players with two hits apiece, with both of Teahen's hits going for doubles.

The teams return to action Wednesday night at 7:10 p.m., with Kansas City's Zack Greinke (1-0) opposing the Yankees' Ian Kennedy (0-1).

Brian Bannister Photo Credit: G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images

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