A year ago, the Royals entered their home opener with a 3-3 record and Kauffman Stadium bursting with fans ready to cheer a winner.
By PETE GRATHOFF
The Kansas City Star
Unfortunately, the Royals trailed Cleveland 7-0 before their first player stepped in the batter’s box. The fans left deflated after a loss that became part of a 12-game skid.
On Monday, the Royals again took a 3-3 record into their home opener. This time, the fans were treated to a 3-1 comeback win against the Twins. And when the Royals pushed three runs across in the eighth inning, the crowd of 40,073 was in full voice.
“They were electric there late,” designated hitter Billy Butler said, “and throughout the game whenever we did something good and helping out Erv (starter Ervin Santana). Erv fed off of them. Late in the game when we put them away, it was a great feeling. They were amazing.”
The memory of last year’s 8-3 loss to the Indians in the home opener was fresh in manager Ned Yost’s mind.
“We wanted to come in and get off to a good start,” Yost said. “We wanted to show our fans exciting baseball and let them see a little bit about what our team is about, to see in person what they’ve read about our team all spring long. …
“It was a great day for us. We’re very excited that we could play good baseball and win the home opener in front of our sold-out fans.”
Now the Royals hope to keep the good vibes flowing.
“It’s key for this team to keep that big crowd and for them to keep coming, we’ve just got to go out and win ballgames,” first baseman Eric Hosmer said. “We’ve just got to take it one game at a time and not think too far ahead.”
Jarrod Dyson didn’t agree with the call when he was caught stealing while pinch-running for Butler in the eighth inning.
Dyson argued briefly, but he said second-base umpire Brian O’Nora told him Twins shortstop Pedro Florimon applied the tag in time. Florimon blocked the base with his leg and paid the price as Dyson caught him with his cleats.
“I was surprised,” Dyson said. “He probably did it because I’m known for going in headfirst. But he got a different look today.”
Florimon stayed down a few minutes after the play.
“I felt every spike get into him,” Dyson said.
Errorless streak continues
The Royals continue to put up nothing but zeroes this season — in the error column.
It is the first time the Royals have opened a season with seven errorless games.
Jamie Splittorff, son of former Royals pitcher Paul Splittorff, threw out the first pitch to John Mayberry.
Paul Splittorff, who died in 2011, threw the very first pitch in Kauffman Stadium — then known as Royals Stadium — when he was the starter in the home opener in 1973.
On Monday, Jamie was joined by his sister, Jennifer; his mother, Lynn; and daughter, Jennifer.
Anthem X factor
Before winning the “The X Factor” last year, singer Tate Stevens’ biggest venue for performing the national anthem was at a rodeo in Iowa.
On Monday, Stevens was on a bigger stage: Kauffman Stadium.
“This is an honor just to be here at The K,” Stevens said. “This is such an institution for baseball. Opening days are so big, and for me to be here being a hometown kid singing the national anthem on opening day is truly an honor.”
Stevens, 38, was a street worker in Belton before winning the singing contest last year. He got a recording deal and has moved to Nashville.
Stevens wore a cowboy hat and a Royals jersey on Monday.
“This is my team,” he said.
• Butler got his Silver Slugger award from George Brett in a pregame ceremony, and left fielder Alex Gordon received his Gold Glove award.
• Gordon has a six-game hitting streak, and Jeff Francoeur has a five-game hit streak.
• Monday was Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie’s 34th birthday.
• The Royals played host to Minnesota in their home opener for the eighth time (4-4 record).
The Star’s Tod Palmer contributed to this report.
To reach Pete Grathoff, call 816-234-4330 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.