Franco's 1st 2 KC HRs among 6 in Royals' win

July 28th, 2020

At some point, the Royals figured they would have to break out of an early-season slump after scoring only five runs in three games in Cleveland to open the 2020 campaign.

And the Royals did so with authority on Monday night at Comerica Park, blasting six home runs, tying a club record, in a 14-6 victory over the Tigers. Kansas City evened its record at 2-2, as it rallied back from an early four-run deficit.

“Just proud of this group,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “You give up a five-spot [in the second], and it’s really easy to get down. But the guys stayed with it. ... There were just some great at-bats.”

Third baseman , who signed with the Royals as a free agent this past offseason, belted his first two home runs for the club -- a solo shot in the second inning and a three-run jack in the fourth.

“I just felt good to be able to contribute,” Franco said. “I felt really good after my last two at-bats Saturday. ... I felt good Sunday, too, like my timing was coming around.”

Franco’s night was one of many offensive highlights for the Royals:

• Leadoff hitter Whit Merrifield nearly hit for the cycle. He singled in the first, hit a two-run homer in the third and doubled in the fourth. Merrifield had three opportunities to get a triple, but he was hit by a pitch and got out twice.

“The good part about this park is you don’t really change your approach to go for a triple,” Merrifield said. “You can just try to drive the ball to center or right-center or left-center. I got two pitches, the 1-0 and 3-1 from [Carson] Fulmer that I thought I had a chance to drive, but didn’t.”

• Ryan O’Hearn had a two-run single and a double in his return from the injured list.

“Getting him back was the shot in the arm we were looking for,” Matheny said.

• Salvador Perez hit his second home run of the season, a solo shot in the third.

“For him to hit that home run where he did [center field] shows you how strong he is,” Matheny said. “This is a really big park there.”

• Jorge Soler, inserted into the No. 2 spot in the order, hit an opposite-field, two-run homer in the fifth.

• Brett Phillips hit a two-run home run, his first of the season, in the ninth.

The only concerning news was regarding left-hander Foster Griffin, who made his Major League debut in relief of starter Mike Montgomery.

Griffin, who also celebrated his 25th birthday Monday, pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings before leaving the game, grimacing and holding his left arm. The Royals later announced that he sustained a left forearm strain.

However, Griffin, the Royals' first-round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft, earned the victory and became the third pitcher since 1901 to win his Major League debut on his birthday, joining Edwin Jackson (Sept. 9, 2003) and Zach Day (June 15, 2002).

“He was a little distraught after the game,” Matheny said. “He’s been so disciplined and stayed so healthy his whole career. It’s one of those peaks and valleys the whole day.

“It was a lifelong goal of his to get here, and now you have that uncertainty.”

Griffin said in an emotional postgame Zoom call that the Royals may schedule an MRI when he returns to Kansas City later this week.

“I have never had anything like this,” Griffin said.