What happened to begin the Kansas City Royals ' 2012 home slate set a bad tone for the entire season.
Kansas City's home since 1973, Kauffman Stadium will be the site of the team's next six games after it finished off a 3-3 season-opening trip with Sunday's 9-8 victory over Philadelphia.
The Royals' bullpen nearly blew a second straight ninth-inning lead, giving up four runs in the final frame. That would have ruined a career day from Billy Butler , who hit his first grand slam - which was originally ruled a double - and matched a club record with seven RBIs."It was just a matter of time with Billy Butler ," manager Ned Yost said of his slugger, who started the game batting .133 with one RBI. "You knew he'd break out and do some damage."
More of that would help as Kansas City tries to avoid last season's woeful home start. The Royals went 0-10 in that first homestand for the longest single-season home skid in club history. It was also the majors' worst home start since the Chicago Cubs opened 0-12 in 1994.
The Royals went on to finish 72-90 for their ninth consecutive losing season.
Kansas City dropped 11 of 18 to the Twins in 2012, including six of nine as the home team.
Santana (0-1, 6.00 ERA) will face the Twins for the first time in a Royals uniform after going six innings in Wednesday's 5-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox, striking out eight with just one walk. The right-hander, though, was tagged for three homers.
"Yeah, he's going to give up homers because he throws strikes," Yost told the Royals' official website.
Santana faced the Twins once in 2012, throwing 7 1-3 innings in the Los Angeles Angels ' 6-2 road victory on May 9.
Minnesota (4-2), meanwhile, begins the second leg of a six-game trip after taking two of three from Baltimore over the weekend. The Twins won just one of their first 12 series last year."It's early in the season but our goal is to win series," manager Ron Gardenhire said after Sunday's 4-3 win. "Get our fans back and excited about this baseball team in a positive way."
Minnesota goes for a third straight victory as Kevin Correia (0-0, 2.57) takes his second turn in the rotation. In his AL debut on Wednesday, the right-hander threw seven innings of two-run ball in a 3-2 victory over Detroit.
Correia's only previous start at Kauffman Stadium was June 21, 2008, while with San Francisco.
Jeff Francoeur has faced Correia more than any other current Royal, going 4 for 12 with a double.
Butler, who's batting .429 (15 for 35) during an eight-game hitting streak against Minnesota, has never faced Correia.
Joe Mauer , a .425 hitter off Royals pitching last season, has 12 hits in 26 at-bats versus Santana with a homer and four doubles.
|March 30, 2013||Cole De Vries||15-Day DL||Right forearm strain|
|March 24, 2013||Tim Wood||15-Day DL||Right rotator cuff strain|
|March 22, 2013||Anthony Swarzak||15-Day DL||Fractured ribs|
|March 22, 2013||Scott Diamond||15-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Anthony Swarzak||15-Day DL||Fractured ribs|
|Kansas City Royals|
|March 31, 2013||Danny Duffy||15-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|February 12, 2013||Felipe Paulino||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Royals fans waited almost all afternoon to see some offense. When their team finally built a rally, it came just in time to give Ervin Santana a much-deserved win.
Santana pitched eight strong innings, Alcides Escobar doubled home the go-ahead run and Kansas City beat the Minnesota Twins 3-1 on Monday in its home opener.
"Better later than never," Santana said. "I know we are going to score runs."
Santana (1-1), acquired from the Los Angeles Angels on Oct. 31 for minor league left-hander Brandon Sisk, gave up a run and eight singles. He struck out seven, walked one and hit a batter with a pitch.
Santana allowed only four hits after the first inning, when the Twins scored their lone run.
"He really had his big slider working and he had a good fastball, too," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "After the first inning he really settled down. His slider was phenomenal. He was able to throw it at the back foot of their big sluggers and keep them off balance. Giving us eight strong innings was big."
Twins right-hander Kevin Correia (0-1) limited the Royals to five singles and no runs over the first seven innings before Lorenzo Cain doubled to right-center to open a three-run eighth. After Chris Getz 's sacrifice bunt moved Cain to third, Alex Gordon singled to tie the score.
Escobar's double scored Gordon and knocked Correia out of the game. Jared Burton gave up a run-scoring single to Billy Butler , who tied a club record with seven RBIs on Sunday in Philadelphia.
"Correia did a good job getting us to hit on top of the ball and hitting ground balls," Yost said. "In the eighth he got some pitches up and we were able to get some runs. These guys just keep plugging away. They have the confidence that they're going to hit."
Correia took the loss after giving up three runs and eight hits in 7 1-3 innings.
"I made a couple bad pitches," he said. "I got behind on (Cain) and I didn't want to walk him. I threw a middlish pitch that he got enough of to get it in the gap. The pitch to Gordon, I tried to throw a fastball and it ran back over the middle."
The Royals, who had the best spring training record in the majors, won their first home opener since 2008 when they beat the New York Yankees 5-2.
"It means a lot," Yost said. "Last year there was as much excitement, but we were down seven after three innings. We wanted to show our fans some exciting baseball. We wanted them to see in person what they have been reading about. We're very happy to win the home opener in front of a sellout crowd."
Aaron Crow worked the ninth to earn his first save of the season and the third of his career - two against the Twins. His previous save came July 21 against Minnesota. The Royals, who have come from behind to win three straight games, have three saves from three different pitchers this season.
Crow walked Chris Parmelee with one out, but coaxed Brian Dozier to bounce into a game-ending double play.
"The decision was easy," Yost said. "(Greg) Holland and (Kelvin) Herrera were unavailable. It's too early in the season for them to be pitching three days in a row. Aaron's an All-Star. I don't like to say it, but he's one of the big four we've got out there, with Holland and Herrera and (Tim) Collins. I've got confidence in any one of those four closing the game."
Joe Mauer scored on Ryan Doumit 's two-out single in the first for the only Minnesota run. It was the first time this season the Twins scored first after being outscored 9-1 in the first two innings during their first six games.
The Twins bunched four singles in the first inning, but managed just the one run after Doumit ended the inning by being thrown out scrambling to get back to second base after Justin Morneau stopped at third on Trevor Plouffe 's single.
NOTES: Mauer has 1,278 hits, passing Gary Gaetti for sixth place on Minnesota's career list. Kirby Puckett is the franchise leader with 2,304. ... RHP Jeremy Guthrie , who starts Tuesday against the Twins, turned 34 on Monday. ... Chris Parmelee was thrown out trying to steal second base in the seventh inning. The Twins have been successful on only two of six stolen base attempts this season. ... The Royals have not committed an error in their first seven games for the first time in team history.