Taylor again stars at plate, Royals beat Rangers 11-4

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Michael A. Taylor homered and drove in three runs for the second straight game, leading the Kansas City Royals over the Texas Rangers 11-4 Saturday.

Released by Washington after hitting .196 last season, Taylor is off to a sensational start for Kansas City. After getting three hits and throwing out two runners at the plate from center field in a 14-10 win on opening day, Taylor came back with a home run and double as the Royals improved to 2-0.

“I’ve been kind of a slow starter in April,” Taylor said. “It kind of feels good to go the other way. I’ll take it.

“I feel really good about my routine right now. I try to game plan the best I can, then just go out there and compete.”

Whit Merrifield also homered for the second game in a row.

Once again, the Royals spotted the Rangers a big early lead before rallying. Kansas City allowed five runs in the top of the first inning in the opener, and this time trailed 4-0 before scoring three runs in the fifth and seven more in the sixth.

“It is frustrating,” Texas manager Chris Woodward said. “These guys have put in a lot of work, especially on the pitching side. It’s something we’re going to have to get through.

“Those innings are critical. We have a bridge inning in the sixth. The starter gave us a chance to win a game and what happened today can’t happen.”

Kansas City left-hander Mike Minor (1-0) allowed four runs and four hits in six innings.

“I could have been better, but I made a lot of good pitches,” Minor said. “Once you count the (David) Dahl base hit and the (Joey) Gallo homer, I had a bad inning. I got behind in some counts. But overall I threw some really good pitches.”

Texas reliever Josh Sborz (0-1) gave up three runs without retiring a batter.

Rangers starter Kohei Arihara allowed three runs and six hits in five innings in his major league debut after six seasons in Japan.

“I thought he did great for the first time ever in the major leagues,” Woodward said. “It looked like he was completely under control.”

Gallo’s mammoth 450-foot homer to center put the Rangers on the board in the first. After Dahl doubled, Gallo hit a 1-2 pitch into the batter’s eye.

Minor ran into trouble in the third, much of it his own doing. After retiring the first two hitters, he gave up an infield single before a four-pitch walk and a hit batter. Nate Lowe then looped a two-run single.

The Royals finally got to Arihara when Taylor hit a 458-foot home run to straightaway center in the fifth.

“Michael, that was quite a spark,” manager Mike Matheny said. “You don’t see many balls go up there. That was impressive. We’ve seen flashes. We knew he would be a good fit in center field. We’ve seen some things in his at-bats over the years, but he hasn’t even seen the best of his offense yet.”

Kyle Isbel then tripled when center fielder Leody Taveras lost his fly ball in the sun. Hanser Alberto doubled and when Nicky Lopez bunted for a single, the Royals had a cycle in the first four batters of the inning. Merrifield drove in Alberto with a fielder’s choice.

Taylor’s two-run double in the sixth lifted Kansas City to a 5-4 lead. Isbel followed with an RBI single, Merrifield drove in two with a single, and Carlos Santana had a two-run double.

Merrifield homered in the eighth.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Royals: 3B Hunter Dozier was out of the lineup with swelling in his right thumb. He left Thursday’s game with a contusion apparently hurt on a swing. Matheny said Dozier is day to day.

UP NEXT

The Rangers will send right-hander Jordan Lyles to the mound Sunday. He went 1-6 with a 7.02 ERA last year.

Royals right-hander Brady Singer is looking to build on an impressive debut season. He went 4-5 with a 4.05 ERA in 2020, but he won three of his last four starts.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.