|Rangers looking for some Minor magic against Royals|
Nicky Lopez got a bunch of firsts out of the way Tuesday night. Now it's time to settle into a routine.
Lopez made his major league debut against the Texas Rangers. He scored his first run in the second inning and got his first hit and RBI with a single in the seventh inning of the Royals' 11-5 victory.
"This was everything I've dreamed of," Lopez said. "I'm just happy to be a Kansas City Royal."
Lopez had been tearing up Triple-A. In 31 games he was slashing .353/.457/.500 with six doubles, a triple, three homers, nine stolen bases and 27 runs scored. General manager Dayton Moore said that Lopez was ready.
"Nicky is deserving of a chance to play in the major leagues," Moore said. "He's our kind of player."
Adding Lopez to the roster means that Whit Merrifield will play more outfield. Lopez has played only second base and shortstop, where Adalberto Mondesi has set up shop. Moore said Merrifield was willing to do whatever the team needs.
"Whit said he was willing to do whatever was best for the team," Moore said. "And he was very excited about having Nicky come up."
Now that all the firsts are out of the way, Lopez can settle in.
"Nicky had some great at-bats," manager Ned Yost said. "I'm glad to see him get his first hit. He's got that under his belt now. (He) can keep moving forward."
Lopez and his teammates will face the Rangers and former Royal Mike Minor (3-3, 2.68 ERA) on Wednesday. It will be Minor's first appearance at Kauffman Stadium since pitching for the Royals in 2017. He was 6-6 with a 2.55 ERA for the Royals that season as a reliever. He's 1-1 against the Royals in three appearances, all starts, with a 4.00 ERA.
Minor has pitched at least six innings in six of his last seven starts, allowing more than two runs just twice with three scoreless outings in that span.
The Rangers may be without starting shortstop Elvis Andrus. He left Tuesday's game in the seventh inning with right hamstring tightness after trying to beat out an infield hit. He will be re-evaluated before Wednesday's game.
"He seems pretty optimistic," Texas manager Chris Woodward said. "We'll obviously evaluate him tomorrow, but he seems pretty optimistic. He hasn't had a hamstring problem before. We'll see when he wakes up tomorrow how he feels."
The Rangers have lost five straight games, but Woodward continues to look for the positives.
"(Nomar Mazara and Rougned Odor) had some really good at-bats," he said. "Mazara really had to fight for those 1/8two 3/8 hits, and so did Rougned, especially in his first at-bat, trying to get us back into the game. And even in his last at-bat he was pretty stubborn with the strike zone. It's good that they got some results today and hopefully that can carry over to the next game."
The Royals will counter with Jorge Lopez. He's 0-4 with a 6.07 ERA in eight starts. He's coming off a 9-0 loss at Houston last Wednesday, which was the second-shortest start of his career (2 1/3 innings). He allowed six runs on six hits while striking out two. Included in those six hits were three homers.
Lopez has never pitched against the Rangers, but three of his last six starts have been against AL West opponents. He had a quality start against Seattle on April 11, allowing two runs in 6.0 innings, taking a no-decision.
He's one of seven pitchers in the major leagues to make eight starts without recording a victory, although three of his previous six outings have ended in a one-run Royals defeats. He's winless since taking a perfect game into the ninth inning at Minnesota last Sept. 8.
--Field Level Media