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Guardians drop season opener to Royals

The Guardians era opens with a whimper

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Kansas City Royals Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Kauffman Stadium crowd erupted in the bottom of the eighth inning as rookie Bobby Witt Jr., making his major league debut, lined a two-out RBI double into left field to score the go-ahead run in the Kansas City Royals’ 3-1 Opening Day win over the Cleveland Guardians.

The Guardians’ lineup was as advertised in their season-opening loss, mustering seven hits, four walks, and one earned run. Myles Straw led the team with two hits and scored their only run on a José Ramirez RBI double in the fourth inning to give the Guardians a 1-0 lead.

Rookie right fielder Steven Kwan had himself an impressive debut at least, walking twice and then singling to right field in the ninth inning for his first major league hit.

On the mound, Shane Bieber, as expected, was pulled after 72 pitches. He pitched 4.2 innings, allowing three hits and one (un)earned run and recording four punch-outs. The velocity on his four-seam fastball was 90.6 mph, his lowest in any career start. Cause for concern? Who’s to say.

Amed Rosario lasted four innings in left field before making his first blunder, dropping a fly ball in the fifth inning to give the Royals a leadoff runner at second. Bizarrely, the official scorer in Kansas City marked it as a double, rather than an error. Bieber nearly got out of it, retiring the next two batters before surrendering a two-out RBI double to Nicky Lopez to tie the game.

Rosario moved to shortstop the very next inning, with Oscar Mercado taking over in left field, Andrés Giménez shifting to second base, and Yu Chang at first.

Triston McKenzie pitched in relief of Bieber, though Bryan Shaw was sandwiched between them, tasked with recording the final out of the fifth inning. McKenzie pitched two scoreless innings before faltering in the eighth. His leadoff walk to Michael Taylor eventually turned into the go-ahead plated by Witt Jr. After advancing to third on a wild pitch, Witt Jr. tacked on an insurance run thanks to an RBI single up the middle by Andrew Benintendi.

Cleveland attempted a rally in the ninth inning, sparked by singles from Kwan and Giménez. But Myles Straw struck out looking with runners at the corners to end the game.