DETROIT – Amid all the talk about Kansas City's promising farm system and bright future, the current Royals are quietly off to a nice start.
Wilson Betemit went 4 for 4 with two doubles, and the Royals beat the mistake-prone Detroit Tigers 9-5 on Sunday. Luke Hochevar pitched seven solid innings for Kansas City, and every Royals starter had a hit.
Kansas City took two of three from the Tigers and improved to 6-3. Not bad, considering many of the team's top prospects might be at least a year from making an impact.
"We feel great," said Jeff Francoeur, who hit a single and a triple. "We're here, and it's our turn to go out there and show what we can do. I think you watch — every guy is just doing the best they can, and hopefully it's good enough. Right now it is."
Miguel Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta and Alex Avila all homered for Detroit, but the Tigers made four errors.
Hochevar (1-1) gave up the three homers, but Detroit managed only two other hits off him. He easily outdueled Rick Porcello (0-2) in a matchup of former first-round draft picks. Three relievers finished for the Royals, with Joakim Soria getting the final two outs for his third save.
It was the first four-hit game for Betemit since July 14, 2007. He also drew a walk.
"That was a great day — not only for me. The team played really hard," Betemit said. "We're starting good right now. We have to keep going."
If the Royals keep this up, their fans might have more to look forward to this summer than just checking out reports from the team's minor league system — which is considered one of baseball's best.
"I know this team has great prospects in the minor leagues," Betemit said. "When you see those guys in the minor leagues — all those young guys, you've seen in spring training, those are great players. You're going to see those guys soon."
Hochevar was the Royals' opening-day starter after the team traded ace Zack Greinke. He was sharp against the Tigers, striking out six without a walk. He allowed four runs, three earned.
Porcello, on the other hand, was in trouble from the start. He made a wild pickoff throw in the first inning, putting a man on third with one out. He managed to pitch out of that jam, but Kansas City broke through in the third.
After a walk to Chris Getz, Melky Cabrera slapped a double down the left-field line, and Ryan Raburn's throw in to second sailed high for an error, allowing Getz to score and Cabrera to take third. Alex Gordon drove in Cabrera with a groundout.
Peralta homered in the bottom half, but Kansas City answered with a run in the fourth. The Royals then scored two in the fifth, again with help from the sloppy Tigers. After a run-scoring triple by Francoeur and a walk by Betemit, Matt Treanor hit a potential double-play grounder to third base that could have ended the inning. Instead, Brandon Inge threw wide of second for another error, and a run came home.
Porcello allowed five runs on nine hits in five innings. He struck out two and walked three.
"As the game went on, I didn't do a good job of mixing my pitches. I got into a pattern, and they got all over that and started waiting on my sinker," Porcello said. "The pickoff was a bad throw, but that wasn't my issue today."
Avila hit a solo homer in the sixth. Umpires reviewed the play because a fan reached over a railing to catch the ball in right field, but it appeared the ball was above the wall.
Betemit drove in a run in the seventh with a double when right fielder Brennan Boesch was unable to make the catch while jumping near the wall. Alcides Escobar made it 7-2 later in the inning with an RBI single.
Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run homer in the bottom half, but another wild pickoff throw — this one by Detroit reliever Daniel Schlereth — helped Kansas City score a run in the eighth.
"I don't mind physical errors, but teams are going to take advantage of them," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "On the two bad throws by our pitchers, that let a runner go from first to third, which means they can score on a sacrifice fly, so it is even more damaging."
Betemit led off the ninth with his second double, and Getz's sacrifice fly made it 9-4.
NOTES: Detroit DH Victor Martinez lobbed a few batting practice pitches to his son before the game. Victor Jose, 6, showed good edge-of-the-infield power while hitting from both sides of the plate. His father is also a switch hitter. ... The temperature at game time was 64 degrees, about 20 degrees warmer than for Detroit's first two home games. ... Kansas City's Billy Butler extended his hitting streak to eight games — and 22 straight against the Tigers.