ANAHEIM -- It was only the second game of the season -- with 160 to go -- but this victory seemed especially important to the Royals.
Luke Hochevar allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings, the hitters struck early and kept tacking on, and the Royals were able to make up for their Opening Day shortcomings with a 6-3 victory on Saturday afternoon over the Angels. Yep, those mighty Angels that are supposed to win everything this year.
"The best thing was getting out there and playing again right away today," the Royals' Jeff Francoeur said. "Opening Day -- I love it, but there are so many different [distractions]. Your routine's out of whack and everybody's psyched up. You could tell today that everybody was loose and putting good swings on it."
A lot of things went right. Francoeur celebrated the 1,000th game of his career with a bases-loaded, two-run single in the first inning against Dan Haren. Kid sluggers Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas hit home runs in the same big league game for the first time. The bullpen bounced back from its woes in Friday night's late-inning 5-0 loss.
"That says a lot about our team, just grindin'," reliever Greg Holland said. "It's a turning point for us, as far as being able to bounce back after a tough loss. And it is a tough loss when you're tied in the eighth and give up five. We came back ready to play today and that's what you've got to do."
Hochevar replicated the six shutout innings that Bruce Chen had given the Royals before the opener got away with the Angels' five-run explosion in the eighth.
"Their starting pitching -- Chen last night and Hochevar this afternoon -- they kind of do it in different ways, but they pitched well against us," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We got started a little bit late. It's early, and I think we're going to be able to pressure teams every inning. On paper, this is a deep lineup."
On the field, too, with guys like Albert Pujols, Kendrys Morales (who had four hits on Saturday) and Torii Hunter.
But Hochevar kept them guessing.
"That's a good ballclub, no doubt about it and it's not an easy lineup to navigate through," Hochevar said. "Especially with Haren on the mound, I knew I had to go out and execute a lot of quality pitches and that was my focus."
Pujols finally got his first hit for the Angels -- a ringing double that shot over left fielder Alex Gordon and banged off the base of the wall. That was with one out in the fourth and it was followed by Morales' single to left, which sent Pujols flying through third-base coach Dino Ebel's stop sign.
Gordon's throw arrived to catcher Humberto Quintero ahead of Pujols, who was called out by umpire Bob Davidson. However, Pujols, apparently claiming a late tag as he slid across the plate, argued with Davidson as did Scioscia. Davidson's ears were deaf to the complaints.
Four straight singles -- by Lorenzo Cain, Hosmer, Billy Butler and Francoeur -- got the Royals off to their fast start. Hosmer started the fifth with a home run and Moustakas did the same in the sixth, both blows against Haren.
The Hosmer-Moustakas home run package was a first.
"It's something special then, it's really cool," Moustakas said. "We've done it before when we were in the Minors. We didn't have much time to play together down there but it's pretty cool, pretty awesome, pretty special."
Those blows -- Hosmer reached the right-center-field stands and Moustakas drove his down the right-field line -- gave the Royals and Hochevar a 5-0 lead. That was a good thing to have when, with one out in the seventh, two singles pushed Hochevar out of the game and the Angels converted them into runs against reliever Tim Collins.
"But Collins recovered nicely and got us out of the inning," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "And Holland with a great eighth and [Jonathan] Broxton with a darn good ninth."
This was Broxton's first ninth-inning appearance as a stand-in for disabled closer Joakim Soria and it wasn't a save situation. But he got through it, giving up one run before ending the game with a double play on Vernon Wells.
"I don't like pitching my closer in a no-save situation but it's been four days since he pitched so we needed to get him in the game," Yost said.
When it was over, the Royals could relax a bit. They'd bounced right back from a tough loss.
"We've got a young team and our kids were a little over-amped last night," Yost said. "They played great but our approaches were a little hurried at times against a guy [Jered Weaver] that was on his game. And with Haren today we have a calmer approach, a more focused approach. It's good to get the first win out of the way, especially against a team like the Angels. They're a darn good team."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.