Rangers lose 3-2 to Royals in Cactus League opener

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FILE - In this March 17, 2019, file photo, Nippon Ham Fighters starter Kohei Arihara pitches against the Oakland Athletics in the first inning of an exhibition baseball game on Tokyo. Arihara says he settled on the Texas Rangers because they told right-hander what they thought he could do better in addition to mentioning the things they liked. The process of working on some of those things has started with pitchers and catchers officially reporting to spring training in Arizona. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

The Rangers lost a 3-2 decision to the Royals in the Cactus League opener for both clubs today in Surprise. The scheduled 6-inning game was played in accordance with 2021 spring training guidelines, which allow for shortened contests upon mutual agreement between the teams.

Texas scored its only runs in the top of the first inning, when Joey Gallo blasted a 430-foot, two-run home run off Ervin Santana in his first at-bat of the spring after Isiah Kiner-Falefa reached on a walk. Gallo’s homer was the only extra-base hit of the day for the Rangers.

Wes Benjamin started for Texas and worked around a pair of hits to post a scoreless first inning in his only frame of work. Jason Bahr (4th inn.) and Drew Anderson (6th inn.) also registered scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Solo home runs by Ryan O’Hearn and Salvador Perez in the 2nd and 3rd innings, respectively, helped pull Kansas City even with Texas, and the Royals took the lead for good in the bottom of the 5th.

Another new spring training rule for 2021 allows for managers of a defensive team to end an inning prior to 3 outs following any completed plate appearance, provided the pitcher has thrown 20+ pitches. This guideline was utilized by Texas in the 2nd and 5th innings, with Nick Vincent and Joe Gatto on the mound.

Today’s game was played in front of a reduced capacity crowd of under 2,000 fans, the Rangers’ first game with fan attendance of any kind since 3/11/20 vs. SF in Surprise.

The Rangers will host the San Francisco Giants on Monday at 2:05 p.m. CT in Surprise. RHP Kyle Gibson is slated to make his spring debut against Giants RHP Nick Tropeano. An audio webcast of the contest will air on texasrangers.com, with Matt Hicks and Jared Sandler calling the action.

From Rangers PR staff reports