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How Kansas City Royals reliever Will Klein celebrated his first MLB win

Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Will Klein achieved a significant first in Sunday’s 4-3 win over the San Diego Padres.

Klein pitched one inning, had one strikeout, surrendered no hits — and walked away with his first MLB victory.

For Klein, KC’s fifth-round selection in the 2020 MLB Draft, the moment was years in the making.

“You are down there (in the minors) and you’re like, ‘Those guys are playing us now.’ Now you’re saying, ‘We,’” Klein said. “It’s cool. It’s cool to be part of that.”

Klein didn’t have any special celebration following his first win. Instead, he kept it low-key and ate some carne asada tacos from Guy Fieri’s Dive & Taco Joint with his wife.

For Klein, it’s taken some time to acclimate to the majors.

“There’s so many things you don’t know,” he said. “You learn all the finer points of being up here along the way and stuff, day by day. You pick (up) something new every day.”

That includes the challenge of facing MLB hitters.

“Hitters are good at every level. They’re better here; they are more consistent,” Klein said. “... You get here, they have advanced approaches and they pick on things. Learning how to approach them, just like how they approach you, is a big part of it, too. Attacking them more and knowing where to go to throw certain pitches, and then being able to execute, is a big part of it.”

And keeping calm, too.

“These guys hit mistakes more, but they also hit good pitches more, too,” Klein continued. “Also, it’s (about) not getting upset when you make a good pitch and they get a hit. They get paid lots of money to do that.”

Of course, this season comes with some added pressure. Unlike 2023, there are heightened expectations around this Royals team.

KC (36-25) faces AL Central leader Cleveland (39-20) starting Tuesday, with KC just four games back in the division.

According to Klein, KC’s winning has led to a good clubhouse atmosphere.

“Everyone has more (fun) when you’re winning,” he said. “The more you win, the more fun you have. The more fun you have, the more you win. It’s a good cycle. ... It’s a good time to make up some ground, and let’s play some ball.”

Meanwhile, Kansas City manager Matt Quatraro has enjoyed the winning, but he knows there’s a long season ahead.

“It’s clearly better than the alternative of playing in games that don’t mean anything,” Quatraro said. “It’s exciting to have (the) first couple of months go well. These guys (Cleveland) have clearly been the most consistent team in the division, if not all of baseball. So it’s a good measuring stick.”