KANSAS CITY — The Kansas City Royals disappointed a lot of people.
The crowd of 41,788 was the largest to see a Royals’ home opener, and the third-biggest regular-season gathering in Kauffman Stadium history.
So what reward did fans reap for this rousing show of support on the heels of a 104-loss season?
The Royals’ most lopsided loss in any home opener.
Seattle’s emergency starter Ryan Franklin took a three-hit shutout into the ninth inning, then the Mariners finally settled for a dominating 8-2 victory Monday.
The Royals haven’t been shut out in their home opener since 1971 and had never lost their first home game by more than five runs.
“It was (Franklin’s) day,” Kansas City second baseman Ruben Gotay said. “Everything was working for him.”
Thrust into the rotation by an injury that put Bobby Madritsch on the 15-day disabled list, Franklin (1-0) kept the Royals flailing for 8 2/3 innings. He retired 15 consecutive batters before Gotay walked with one out in the ninth.
The Mariners batted around in a seven-run eighth as Ichiro Suzuki, Adrian Beltre and Miguel Olivo each had two RBIs.
Franklin, a 32-year-old right-hander who was 1-10 on the road last year in a 4-16 season, threw 16 straight strikes to begin the game.
“They didn’t swing at too many bad balls,” said Franklin, who made no secret of his disappointment at being moved to the bullpen at the end of spring training.
“I made pretty decent pitches. I didn’t leave too much over the middle of the plate. It was just one of those days. A lot of those balls could have fell in. A lot of those ground balls could have found the hole. But I had luck on my side today.”
Franklin walked two and struck out one and was charged with two earned runs. Mike Sweeney followed Gotay’s ninth-inning walk with a single, and then with two outs, Emil Brown hit an RBI single to break up the shutout and bring in J.J. Putz from the bullpen. Terrence Long singled off Putz to drive in the Royals’ second run.
“He didn’t throw any balls. Everything was strike, strike, strike,” Gotay said.
Manager Mike Hargrove admitted he may have to reconsider his decision to put Franklin in the bullpen.
“That was as good a pitching performance as you’ll see,” Hargrove said. “I think he’ll get a couple of more starts at the very least. If he keeps pitching like this, then we’ll have to look at the possibility of him getting a whole lot more starts.”
Runelvys Hernandez (1-1), who missed the entire 2004 season after undergoing elbow surgery, went 7 1/3 innings and allowed six hits until Jeremy Reed’s one-out double in the eighth. Beltre then hit his first home run of the season for a 3-0lead.
“That one pitch got me out of the game,” Hernandez said. “I expe