Torrid Taylor helps Royals take opening series

By The Associated Press
Kansas City Royals Whit Merrifield (15) beats the tag by Texas Rangers catcher Jose Trevino, left, during the sixth inning of Saturday's game at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals won 11-4 Saturday and lost 7-3 Sunday but won the series with Texas 2-1.

A 7-3 loss to the Texas Rangers Sunday notwithstanding, Michael A. Taylor and the Kansas City Royals got the season off to a strong start.

Taylor stayed hot Saturday, leading the Royals to an 11-4 come-from-behind win. That gave Kansas City a 2-1 series win in the season-opening set.

Taylor homered and drove in three runs for the second straight game Saturday.

Released by Washington after hitting .196 last season, Taylor is off to a sensational start for Kansas City. After getting three hits and throwing out two runners at the plate from center field in a 14-10 win on opening day, Taylor came back with a home run and double as the Royals improved to 2-0.

"I've been kind of a slow starter in April," Taylor said. "It kind of feels good to go the other way. I'll take it.

"I feel really good about my routine right now. I try to game plan the best I can, then just go out there and compete."

Taylor added a hit in four at-bats in Sunday’s loss and is hitting .462 with six RBIs heading into Monday’s game at Cleveland.

Nate Lowe hit a towering, three-run homer and the Rangers finally held onto a big lead, beating the Kansas City Royals 7-3 Sunday. 

Texas blew a five-run edge on opening day and a four-run lead Saturday. Boosted by Lowe, the Rangers avoided a sweep. 

Lowe connected in the third for a 3-0 lead. He has nine RBIs in the first three games of the season, a Texas record. 

Isiah Kiner-Falefa also drove in three runs. He had a two-run single in the fourth as Texas took a 6-0 lead and a homer in the ninth off Wade Davis. 

Jordan Lyles (1-0) gave up two runs in 5 2/3 innings, struck out eight and allowed five hits. His eight strikeouts are the most he's posted in a game since September 19, 2019. 

"We didn't pitch to our liking the first two games so I set the tone and it felt really good," Lyles said. "I'm excited where my stuff is and we executed really well today." 

Texas pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts. Salvador Pérez hit a two-run homer in the Royals sixth. 

Taylor scored a run in the ninth on a single by Hanser Alberto off former Royals pitcher Ian Kennedy. 

Brady Singer (0-1) gave up five earned runs on five hits and three walks in 3 1/3 innings. He threw 77 pitches, the fewest in any of his outings in a two-year career. 

"We need our starters to go deeper and we can't expect our offense do that every night," Royals manager Mike Matheny said. "So we need them to give us a chance going forward." 

Kyle Zimmer came in for relief and gave up one hit in three innings 

In Saturday’s game, Whit Merrifield also homered for the second game in a row.

Again, the Royals spotted the Rangers a big early lead before rallying. Kansas City allowed five runs in the top of the first inning in the opener, and this time trailed 4-0 before scoring three runs in the fifth and seven more in the sixth.

"It is frustrating," Texas manager Chris Woodward said. "These guys have put in a lot of work, especially on the pitching side. It's something we're going to have to get through.

"Those innings are critical. We have a bridge inning in the sixth. The starter gave us a chance to win a game and what happened today can't happen."

Kansas City left-hander Mike Minor (1-0) allowed four runs and four hits in six innings.

"I could have been better, but I made a lot of good pitches," Minor said. "Once you count the (David) Dahl base hit and the (Joey) Gallo homer, I had a bad inning. I got behind in some counts. But overall I threw some really good pitches."

The Royals finally got to Arihara when Taylor hit a 458-foot home run to straightaway center in the fifth. 

"Michael, that was quite a spark," Matheny said. "You don't see many balls go up there. That was impressive. We've seen flashes. We knew he would be a good fit in center field. We've seen some things in his at-bats over the years, but he hasn't even seen the best of his offense yet."

Kyle Isbel then tripled when center fielder Leody Taveras lost his fly ball in the sun. Hanser Alberto doubled and when Nicky Lopez bunted for a single, the Royals had a cycle in the first four batters of the inning. Merrifield drove in Alberto with a fielder's choice.

Taylor's two-run double in the sixth lifted Kansas City to a 5-4 lead. Isbel followed with an RBI single, Merrifield drove in two with a single, and Carlos Santana had a two-run double.

Merrifield homered in the eighth.

TRAINER'S ROOM 

Royals: 3B Hunter Dozier didn't play for the second straight game Sunday because his right hand is swollen. He left Thursday's opener after apparently hurting himself on a swing. Matheny doesn't expect Dozier to miss much time. 

UP NEXT 

Royals play at Cleveland Monday as Danny Duffy starts after going 4-4 with a 4.95 ERA last season.