Hard-hitting offense, late rally power Royals to victory over Angels

Eric Hosmer's two-run, first-inning home run was Kansas City's ninth homer in its first five spring training games.

Rick Scuteri/Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals used a four-run ninth inning to rally past the Angels 6-4 and secure their fifth straight win to open Cactus League play this season.

Orlando Calixte’s one-out double scored Moises Sierra and J.C. Boscan to knot the game at four, and Ryan Jackson singled home another run in the next at-bat to give Kansas City the lead.

First baseman Eric Hosmer hit a two-run homer in the first inning off Angels starter Matt Shoemaker and Lorenzo Cain reached base in two of his three plate appearances.

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• Power surge continues. The Royals are doing their best to shed their label as a soft-hitting offensive team. Hosmer’s two-run, first-inning home run was Kansas City’s ninth homer in its first five spring training games. Hosmer has two home runs, while new addition Alex Rios has three (after hitting four all of last season).

In 2014, the Royals were last in baseball with 95 home runs.

• Binford’s spring debut. Christian Binford, a 22-year-old pitching prospect, threw a solid two innings Sunday, allowing one hit and striking out two. Binford played in the 2014 Futures Game and is considered one of the Royals’ best pitching prospects.

To start his appearance, Binford struck out reigning American League MVP Mike Trout and allowed a single to Albert Pujols. Binford coaxed three groundball outs and punctuated his relief performance with a strikeout of Drew Butera.

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• Mondesi’s speed. Infield prospect Raul Mondesi earned his first start of the spring Sunday, playing shortstop and batting ninth. He went 1 for 2 with a strikeout, but his speed on the bases garnered attention.

In the fifth inning, he legged out an infield single on a grounder to short and then stole second base in the very next at-bat. Mondesi swiped two bases as a pinch-runner Thursday and fits the Royals’ mold: A solid defensive player with above-average speed.

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• Colon’s defense. Christian Colon, who filled in for injured second baseman Omar Infante, committed two errors and botched another ball in his five innings of play. His error in the first inning (booting an Erick Aybar groundball) resulted in two unearned runs, and his bobble in the third cost the Royals a potential double play. His error in the fifth inning allowed Pujols to reach.

Colon figures to make the 25-man Opening Day roster as the backup utility infielder and could see significant playing time if Infante’s elbow injury lingers throughout the season.

• Volquez’s first impression. Edinson Volquez made his first appearance as a Royal on Sunday afternoon, giving up three runs (one earned) on three hits across two innings. Volquez was victimized by Colon’s first-inning error that extended the Angels’ frame, but was also bailed out by nice running catches by both Cain and Jarrod Dyson.

Kansas City signed Volquez to a two-year, $17 million deal in the offseason and is hoping the 31-year-old right-hander can help replace James Shields and his 227 innings from a year ago.

• Tempe’s bees. Bees delayed the start of Sunday’s game by 10 minutes and again put the game on hold for another nine in the bottom of the fourth inning. The swarm, mostly congregated on the screen behind home plate, forced the Angels to seek shelter in their dugout and caused spectators to vacate their seats.


A beekeeper — armed with spray and a broom — arrived at Tempe Diablo Stadium in the bottom of the fourth inning to quell the situation.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Royals will send Jason Vargas to the hill Monday afternoon against Milwaukee’s Jimmy Nelson. It will be Vargas’ first start of the spring, after he went 11-10 with a 3.71 ERA last season.

Ryan Madson is scheduled to make his first appearance with the Royals; he hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2011. Aaron Brooks, Kelvin Herrera, Franklin Morales, Brian Flynn and Brian Broderick will also pitch.

You can follow Matthew DeFranks on Twitter at @MDeFranks or email him at matthew.defranks@gmail.com.