The Kansas City Royals fascinated their fans by starting the 2003 season with nine straight wins. After their performance in the 2004 opener, it’s safe to say they again have the attention of their followers.
Kansas City looks to sweep its two-game series with the Chicago White Sox when the teams meet at Kauffman Stadium.
Tony Pena was named AL Manager of the Year after leading the Royals to a 21-game turnaround in 2003. They finished third in the AL Central and their 83 wins were the franchise’s most since 1993.
After instilling a winning attitude, Pena came into this season saying it was now time for Kansas City to secure its first postseason berth since 1985.
The Royals got off to a flying start in their opener on Monday.
Then after Angel Berroa singled, Carlos Beltran hit Marte’s 2-2 pitch over the wall in left-center, giving the Royals a 9-7 victory in front of 41,575 fans—Kansas City’s largest opening day crowd since becoming a major league town with the arrival of the Athletics in 1955.
“I will never forget that feeling as I ran around the bases,” Beltran said. “This I’m going to remember for the rest of my life. Opening day. A walkoff home run. It doesn’t get any better than this.”
The Royals got off to a 9-0 start last year and won 16 of their first 19.
“We aren’t saying this means we’re going to start 9-0 again,” Royals third baseman Joe Randa said. “But Mendy and Carlos did something magical today. It was a feeling none of us will ever forget.”
“I felt good,” Marte said. “I just missed my spots. It happens. It’s never happened to me before on opening day so it’s a surprise. But I have to take it.”
Ozzie Guillen, who played 13 seasons for the White Sox, made his managerial debut for Chicago after spending the last three years as the Florida Marlins’ third-base coach.
“I started pretty good,” said Guillen, the first Venezuelan to manage a major league team. “I don’t know if people think I can manage or not. I’m going to have people second-guessing me from now on. That team (the Royals), you’ve got to pitch good every inning and that didn’t happen today.”