GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — If winning exhibition games means anything, Ervin Santana and the Kansas City Royals are ready for big things this season.
Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez hit home runs off Matt Latos in Kansas City's five-run third inning, and the Royals beat the Cincinnati Reds 8-3 on Thursday. It was the Royals major league-best 24th spring victory.
Santana pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the second by getting Joey Votto to bounce to the mound to start a 1-2-3 double play. The right-hander allowed two runs and seven hits with a walk in four innings.
"We are ready to rumble. I just have to wait for my turn," Santana said. "I am really excited about my performance. I have to keep throwing strikes and working hard. Everyone is very excited. There is no pressure at all."
Santana, came over from the Angels to become part of the Royals' revamped starting rotation. Santana joins Wade Davis and James Shields as the newcomers. Holdovers Jeremy Guthrie and Luis Mendoza round out the starting five.
The Royals are excited with the spring and its prospects for the season.
"It's been a great spring," said centerfielder Lorenzo Cain, who chipped in with a run scoring triple. "I don't think there could be anything better than the spring we had. We have to get it done when the season starts but it builds our confidence knowing that we can play with everyone."
Gordon's homer was his seventh of the spring, and Perez — who also doubled — hit his second, a three-run shot.
Votto and Royals first baseman Billy Butler collided as Votto rounded first after hitting a ball off Ervin Santana into the left-field corner to drive in a run in the first inning. Votto was awarded second base as both men fell to the ground.
"There has to be a stopping point. I'm basically letting him go by so I can trail him," Butler said. "I'm not trying, nor do I ever try to get in his way. It is always the defender that gets the obstruction. The rule says the baserunner creates his own base path but it's got to stop somewhere."