KANSAS CITY — It wasn’t the Royals debut that right-hander Jorge Lopez was looking for.
But then again, Lopez likely was one pitch away from that goal. That pitch instead turned his night around as he served up a 2-0 fastball to the Blue Jays’ Curtis Granderson, who ripped a grand slam in a five-run fourth inning en route to a 6-5 triumph over the Royals on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium. The game was delayed by 15 minutes at the start due to rain.
Lopez, acquired along with outfielder Brett Phillips from Milwaukee in the Mike Moustakas trade in July, gave up one run through three innings and took a 2-1 lead into the fourth. But an infield single, a hit batter and another single loaded the bases
After a single by Kevin Pillar plated a run and tied the score at 2, Lopez got Luke Maile on a curveball — Lopez’s out pitch — for strike three. Lopez then got Richard Urena to foul out.
But after throwing two changeups for balls to Granderson, Lopez tried to work a 93-mph four-seamer past him, but he instead deposited it into the right-field bullpen.
“I thought he was going to get out [of the fourth inning],” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He got two outs and then just barely missed with a couple of changeups and let a fastball up that Granderson hit out. All in all, just that one pitch.”
Afterward, Lopez was still shaking his head over that errant four-seamer to Granderson.
“For sure, I thought I [was going to get out of the inning] but I didn’t,” Lopez said. “When you miss like that with good hitters, it’s always trouble. I need to get better, for sure, in that count.
“I was trying to go away. I think I threw kind of the same pitch and he gave me a popup to left field [the time before]. That one was just a little bit right up the middle and he just took a great swing and hit that grand slam.”
Lopez said he had a few nerves when he arrived in Kansas City on Tuesday.
“For sure, since I got here yesterday, by myself, I was a little nervous,” Lopez said. “But I was here [in the Major Leagues] before [with Milwaukee]. I just need to compete and that’s the guy I am. It feels great, it feels great just competing with the guys. I feel like I battled tonight.”
Lopez, scheduled for a 75-85 pitch limit, threw 88 pitches, 57 for strikes. He went 4 2/3 innings and gave up eight hits and six runs.
But Royals catcher Salvador Perez was greatly impressed with Lopez’s stuff.
“He was great,” Perez said. “He was just one pitch off. He’s got really great stuff. I know he’s only 25 years old and he’s got a lot to learn, but his stuff is amazing. Great curve, slider, good changeup, good four-seamer, good two-seamer. He just needs experience and he’s going to be really good.”
Perez had a big night offensively, smashing two home runs for the Royals, giving him 21 for the season. He became the fifth Royals player all time to hit at least 20 home runs in four consecutive seasons, joining John Mayberry, Steve Balboni, Bo Jackson and Mike Sweeney.
Rookie Ryan O’Hearn — pinch-hitting in the ninth — also homered for the Royals, his third of the season.