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Season Gets Off to Royal Beginning

From Associated Press

A year ago, the Baltimore Orioles beat the Kansas City Royals on opening day and remained in first place for the rest of the season.

So much for an encore.

Tim Belcher, starting the opener in place of the injured Kevin Appier, gave up only three hits in seven scoreless innings Tuesday at Baltimore as the Royals defeated Mike Mussina and the Orioles, 4-1.

Few expect the Royals to use the victory as a springboard to their first playoff berth since 1985, but the young team was genuinely excited about getting off to a good start.

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“This sets the tone, to get out of the gate on a positive note,” said closer Jeff Montgomery, who pitched a perfect ninth inning for the save.

Rookie Larry Sutton drove in three runs and Jeff King went two for two and scored twice before leaving in the fourth inning because of a sore back.

Belcher certainly didn’t appear apprehensive after compiling an 11.66 earned-run average in spring training. The right-hander faced only one batter more than the minimum and did not permit a runner past first.

Chicago 9, Texas 2--Jerry Manuel’s debut as manager of the White Sox couldn’t have gone much better as Frank Thomas, Albert Belle and Robin Ventura each drove in two runs in the victory at Arlington, Texas.

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Outfielder Mike Cameron and rookie shortstop Mike Caruso made run-saving defensive plays. And starter Jaime Navarro finally looked worthy of his big contract.

“I’m satisfied,” said Manuel, who replaced Terry Bevington after a disappointing 80-81 season. “The first game is behind me and we played well.”


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