Bubba Starling, the Kansas City Royals’ 2011 first round draft pick, played his first professional game Thursday against the Johnson City Cardinals. While Starling’s performance was mediocre at best, the Burlington Royals got their biggest win of the season with a 14-2 victory over the Cardinals.
After losing their last series at home, the Royals hit the road hoping to rejuvenate their offense by finally starting Starling in the line-up. Starling hadn’t played a game since Burlington’s exhibition against Kernersville on June 16 where he injured his hamstring rounding the bases. While Starling did not contribute much to the Royals offense, the team took advantage of poor pitching from the Cardinals’ bullpen to gain a large lead that never dwindled.
The game was scoreless until the 3rd inning when the Royals went on an 8-run tear, which included a Kenneth Diekroeger grand slam. Deikroeger had an impressive performance, going 3-5 with 2 HR and 5 RBI. Patrick Leonard, Henry Moreno, and Fred Ford also went deep last night. Leonard leads the league with 6 homeruns for the season.
Starling, unfortunately, did not have the grand entrance into professional baseball that he had hoped for, going 0-5 with 3 strikeouts (he was 1 of only 2 Royals’ batters who didn’t get a hit Thursday). However, the young outfielder did walk once, which eventually led to a run scored.
Burlington’s Yender Caramo earned his first win of the season with 6.0 IP, 2 ER, and 4 K. Caramo has yet to walk a batter in 2012. The Johnson City bullpen wasn’t so fortunate and struggled to keep the ball in the strike zone. In the 3rd inning alone, Cardinals’ pitchers Stalyn Lopez and Jared Springer combined for 7 BB. Two of those walks occurred with the bases loaded.
Thursday’s win moved the Royals to 6-4 for the season. They play the Cardinals again Friday in Johnson City at 7:00PM.