KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Brady Singer pitched five effective innings, MJ Melendez hit a two-run homer and the Kansas City Royals broke loose early to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-5 on Monday night for their first victory of the season.
Nicky Lopez had a two-run triple and Bobby Witt Jr. delivered a pair of RBI singles as the Royals opened a 7-0 lead in the fourth against José Berríos and gave Matt Quatraro his first win as manager.
“They dumped some champagne on me, sprayed it in my face, turned out the lights,” Quatraro said.
And his players were thrilled for him.
“The first one’s always the hardest,” Lopez said. “We showered him for his first win. He deserves it. It’s fun playing for him.”
Singer (1-0) allowed just two hits — doubles by Matt Chapman — with three walks and three strikeouts.
“He came out firing,” Quatraro said. “It seemed like every pitch he threw was a strike and the (velocity) was up. He had really good command of the two-seamer.”
Singer is 7-0 with a 1.68 ERA in his last 10 starts at Kauffman Stadium dating to June 26 last year.
“I felt good,” he said. “The fastball had some good life. The velo was pretty good all game. The slider got me out of a few situations. It had some better bite on it tonight.”
Toronto mounted a fifth-inning charge, loading the bases with a double and a pair of walks, but Singer limited the damage with a double-play grounder that scored one run.
Kansas City was shut out twice by Minnesota last weekend while losing its first three games. After entering with a major league-worst .133 batting average, the Royals greeted Berríos (0-1) with four first-inning hits, producing three runs and their first lead of the season.
“To do it early, to let them relax a little, and then to add on was a big plus,” Quatraro said. “(The hitters) were well prepared. Listening to what they were saying about how Berríos was going to pitch and what they were looking for.”
Berríos went 5 2/3 innings in his season debut, allowing eight runs on nine hits and striking out seven.
Lopez’s two-run triple highlighted a four-run fourth as Kansas City expanded its lead to 7-0.
“We came out swinging,” Lopez said. “Sometimes you can start off slow. Just come in every day and work your tail off, and that’s what we do.”
Melendez capped the scoring in the sixth with a two-run homer, his first of the year and the longest of his career at 443 feet.
“It was a great feeling,” Melendez said. “Trying to find a pitch I could hit and be on time with it.”
“He crushed that ball,” Quatraro said. “He got us going with the leadoff double. The home run was more separation. (Toronto) can score in a heartbeat, so any separation you can get is huge.”
Witt also had Kansas City’s first stolen base of the year, while five Royals collected their first hits and RBIs.
“Just getting the first win of the season was a huge thing for us,” Melendez said. “I think we were pressing a little bit. We got the offense started early and continued throughout the game.”
Four consecutive singles off Royals relievers led to a pair of seventh-inning runs, but the Blue Jays left the bases loaded. Toronto stranded seven in scoring position, going 2 for 11 in those situations.
Bo Bichette drilled Toronto’s first homer of the year leading off the ninth. The Blue Jays had gone without a long ball in their first three games — their longest drought to begin a season.
Toronto’s Yusei Kikuchi and Kansas City’s Kris Bubic will make their season debuts Tuesday evening.
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Marc Bowman, The Associated Press