Kansas City jumped out early on the Chicago Cubs this afternoon, scoring five runs in the top half of the first inning, and never looked back, in rolling to a 13-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs. The Royals were lead by Alex Gordon, who after having struggled all spring training to this point, had a perfect 3-for-3 day at the plate and finished with 2 RBI. Other notable standouts for the day included Billy Butler going 2-for-3, Melky Cabrera finishing 2-for-3 with 3 RBI, and Lance Zawadzki batting 2-for-2 with 3 RBI.
To get things going in the first, Butler singled off Cubs starter Matt Garza to score leadoff hitter Lorenzo Cain, who had walked. Cabrera then came through with a big blow, clearing the bases with a three-run triple with still just one out in the inning. Cabrera then came down from third and made the score 5-0 when Gordon singled for his first hit on the afternoon.
Overall on the day the Royals were able to rough up Garza for six runs on four hits and four walks in just two and two-thirds innings. Garza's counterpart, Bruce Chen faired much better in four innings, giving up two runs on three hits. Chen also gave struck out four and walked three, and gave up a third inning home run to Marlon Byrd of the Cubs. Garza took the loss, while Chen picked up the win.
Gordon added his second RBI on the day in the fifth, this time a double which scored Brett Carroll for Kansas City. It had made the score 8-2 at the time. The Royals bullpen was solid in five innings of work, giving up just two additional runs on the afternoon. Kanekoa Texeira, Everett Teaford, Brandon Sisk, and Jesse Chavez all saw action in relief. Teaford gave up a run on three hits while walking two in two innings. His ERA this spring is now 22.85. He was one player many Kansas City fans were rooting for to possibly make the big league team out of camp, but he has a long up hill battle if that is to come to fruition.
In the late innings, Zawadzki and Mitch Maier were keys in helping Kansas City extend the lead and cruise to the victory. Zawadzki singled and drove in two runs with two out in the seventh, and then tripled in the ninth to drive in Carroll. Zawadzki has been a pleasant surprise during the spring and is now batting .500 with a home run and 5 RBI. The 25 year-old Lee University product received his first chance at the major league level last year with the San Diego Padres and has a chance to be a utility guy for the Royals this season, and if not he very likely will be starting in Omaha.
Maier continued his torrid spring for the Royals, hitting his first home run and accounting for his 6th RBI, while raising his average to a scorching .647. Maier, who seemed to be a lost man in the Royals outfield coming into camp has really made the most of his playing time over the past week and a half.
It was also nice to see Alcides Escobar working his way back into the lineup over the past few days, after having been out with an odd bug bite injury. He was 0-for-3 at the plate, but did take part in turning two double plays for the Royals. Full boxscore from today can be found here.
The Cubs fall to 4-8, while Kansas City improves to 8-4 this spring, and will be playing two split squad road games tomorrow, both afternoon games. Will Smith will be starting against the Oakland A's in Phoenix, while Vin Mazzaro will be starting against the Angels in Tempe. Ironically Smith is a former Angels prospect, while Mazzaro is a former Athletic.
For those of you keeping track of spring training standings, the Royals currently lead the American League by one game, as the Seattle Mariners sit second at 6-4 overall, meanwhile the Royals record is third best overall in baseball as the San Franciscio Giants are 10-4 while the Wasington Nationals are 7-3.