Kansas City, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - On the day they celebrated their 2014 American League pennant, the Kansas City Royals went out and played like champions.
Yordano Ventura fired six-plus sharp innings, Alex Rios went 3-for-4 with a three-run homer, and the Royals followed up the raising of last season's AL Championship banner by routing the Chicago White Sox 10-1 on Opening Day.
Mike Moustakas also homered and scored twice, while Alex Gordon delivered a two-run single and Alcides Escobar ended 2-for-4 with three runs scored as the Royals began their title defense with a performance much like the ones they produced for most of October.
"A home run always feels good," said Moustakas. "I was happy that we extended the lead against a team like that."
Ventura (1-0) was forced to exit in the seventh inning with a minor cramp in his right thumb, about the only negative experience witnessed by the sold-out Kauffman Stadium crowd.
Prior to departing, the talented young hurler surrendered just one run, four hits and a walk.
Jeff Samardzija (0-1), one of several high-profile offseason acquisitions that have raised expectations in Chicago, conversely had a disappointing White Sox debut. The former Cubs ace was charged with five runs, walked three and hit two batters over six-plus innings of work.
"It goes to show you how important it is to not give free passes," Samardzija said. "They had it working for them today."
Reigning AL Rookie of the Year Jose Abreu had the White Sox' lone highlight, slamming a solo homer off Ventura in the seventh inning.
While Ventura was in control throughout, Samardzija was often shaky during his anticipated first start.
The right-hander got into a jam by walking Kendrys Morales and hitting Gordon with a pitch in the second inning, setting the stage for Salvador Perez's two- out RBI single that plated the game's first run.
Escobar doubled off Samardzija to open the bottom of the third and came around on Lorenzo Cain's blooper to right that dropped between three players. After swiping second and getting to third on a groundout, Cain crossed the plate on a Samardzija slider that got away to extend Kansas City's lead to 3-0.
Moustakas, who swatted five homers during last year's postseason run, increased the margin with an impressive opposite-field blast in the fifth. Samardzija's next pitch struck Cain in the shoulder, triggering an exchange of words between both teams but nothing further.
The White Sox had far fewer opportunities against Ventura, with their only threat over the opening six innings coming in the second when Conor Gillaspie's double put runners on second and third with two out. Ventura then struck out Tyler Flowers, the first of eight straight retired by the poised righty.
Abreu gave Chicago a brief spark by crushing Ventura's 2-0 offering well over the wall in left center to begin the seventh. Ventura threw just three more pitches before clutching his right wrist and being removed.
Samardzija's day ended with a leadoff walk to Escobar that triggered a five- run bottom of the seventh for Kansas City. Gordon knocked in the first two with a bases-loaded dribbler up the middle that preceded Rios' long homer off Kyle Drabek that pushed the lead to 9-1.
Escobar singled and scored the Royals' final run on Eric Hosmer's base hit in the eighth.
Chicago's Micah Johnson collected his first major league hit with a leadoff single in the sixth inning, though the rookie second baseman was then picked off first by Ventura ... Samardzija joined Jaime Navarro as the only pitchers to start Opening Day for both the Cubs and White Sox ... Ryan Madson, who made the Royals as a non-roster invitee after missing three seasons due to arm troubles, pitched a scoreless ninth in his first MLB appearance since Sept. 28, 2011 ... Escobar now has a 10-game hitting streak dating back to last season ... Kansas City snapped a six-game losing streak on Opening Day, while the White Sox had won five of their previous six season openers.