KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Following consecutive lackluster offensive performances over the weekend, the Royals emerged from the off-day facing a new opponent and sporting a new-look lineup thanks to the addition of Nicky Lopez in the second spot in the batting order.
In all likelihood the Texas Rangers' pitching staff, which entered the day having allowed the second-most runs per game in baseball (5.68), had more to do with the Royals offensive success than the minor lineup shakeup, but the combination amounted to a lot of early offense.
The Royals rode that bevy of early runs to an 11-5 win in the first game of their three-game series with the Rangers in front of an announced 19,410 at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday night. The Royals have now scored 10 runs or more four times this season.
Lopez became the first Royals player since Jeremy Giambi to bat second in his major-league debut. Giambi's debut came on Sept. 1, 1998. Lopez, who slotted into the lineup between leadoff hitter Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi, went 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored in the win.
Merrifield collected three hits, including the 500th of his career, and scored three times, while Alex Gordon, Hunter Dozier and Jorge Soler each had multiple hits and drove in multiple runs.
The Royals (15-27) sent 18 batters to the plate in the first two innings. By the start of the third inning, eight of the Royals starting position players had at least one walk or one hit. Five players had scored runs, and three had scored twice.
The Royals scored three first-inning runs on three doubles. Merrifield started it off with a double down the left-field line and into the corner.
Lopez's fly out ball was deep enough for Merrifield to tag and advance to third, and Gordon and Dozier followed with back-to-back RBI doubles. Soler's RBI single scored Dozier as the Royals grabbed a 3-0 lead going into the second inning.
The Royals kept the heat on Rangers starting pitcher Shelby Miller in the second. Miller walked the first two batters, Martin Maldonado and Billy Hamilton, to start the frame. Merrifield's single loaded the bases.
After Lopez grounded into a fielder's choice, Mondesi drove in the run with an RBI single on the ground into right field. Then Gordon's fielder's choice drove in another run as the Rangers opted to take the out at second base, and Dozier's two-run single marked the end of the night for Miller as the Royals led 7-0.