KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Cleveland Guardians won for the first time with their new name as hot-starting rookie Steven Kwan went 5 for 5 on Sunday in a 17-3 romp over the Kansas City Royals.
Oscar Mercado hit a grand slam during a five-RBI performance and Owen Miller drove in a career-high four runs. Cleveland had lost its first two games since changing this season to the Guardians from the Indians, its name since 1915.
Kwan had four singles and a double, was hit by a pitch and scored four runs. The 24-year-old outfielder made his major league debut on opening day and is 8 for 10 in three games so far, reaching base in 12 of 14 plate appearances.
“I know it’s three games in, but nobody wants to not get excited,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. "When our young guys want to do things like that, it is exciting.”
Kwan hit .469 in spring training after batting a combined .301 in three minor league seasons.
“I’m not surprised about what (Kwan) is doing,” Mercado said. “He is such a good player, knows himself and knows what he can do. He is such a sparkplug and it is going to be awesome to watch him play this year.”
Held to a total of one run while dropping the first two games of the series, Cleveland broke loose with 22 hits. José Ramírez, who homered and three hits, and Amed Rosario, who had four hits, each drove in three runs.
“It was good for everybody to let our offense loosen up a little bit,” Francona said.
Mercado connected for his first career grand slam off Taylor Clarke in the first inning, capping a six-run burst. The Guardians made it 10-0 in the second and Mercado added an RBI triple in the fourth.
Ramírez and Miller each contributed three hits.
Pitching with a huge cushion, Cal Quantrill (1-0) tossed five innings and allowed two runs and four hits.
Kris Bubic (0-1) got just two outs and was tagged for five runs on three hits with two walks.
Royals rookie Bobby Witt Jr. hit a two-run double.
“It’s hard for a club to fight back when they’re putting up big numbers in the first and the second,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “We had an opportunity to keep it close, and we didn’t, and it just got out of hand. Those are the kind you learn from and move on from.”
Royals: RHP Tyler Zuber (Right shoulder impingement syndrome) is the lone KC player on the injured list. He was put on the 60-day IL on March 16.
The series will conclude with a Monday matinee. Aaron Civale will pitch for Cleveland against Carlos Hernandez.
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