KANSAS CITY — It’s no secret that the Royals have these September games as an opportunity to see what pieces they’ll have going forward in this rebuild.
Three of those potential pieces — first baseman Ryan O’Hearn, center fielder Bubba Starling and middle infielder Nicky Lopez — were on display in a 9-6 victory over the Braves on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
O’Hearn, who had a double, a home run and four RBIs on the recent road trip, drove in two runs with a sacrifice fly and a scorching double to the right-center-field gap.
Starling had the most exciting moment in the series opener. He smashed a two-run double to the left-center-field gap, went to third on the throw home and then scored when the throw from catcher Brian McCann back to third sailed into left field. Starling also doubled and scored in the seventh.
Lopez continues to heat up. He was 5-for-10 on the recent trip. He doubled in the second inning, delivered a sharp, two-out RBI single in the fifth, and doubled in a run in the seventh.
Left-hander Danny Duffy started for the Royals and retired nine of the first 10 hitters he faced. He lost his command in the fifth and gave up a home run, a single, two walks and a hit batter.
Duffy left after five innings having given up five hits and three runs.