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Royals overcome major roster shuffle to top Blue Jays

Jul 14, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN;  Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Angel Zerpa (61) delivers a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Bobby Witt Jr. and Nate Eaton homered and Edward Olivares had three hits and an RBI as the depleted Kansas City Royals defeated the host Toronto Blue Jays 3-1 on Thursday night.

The Royals won despite having to leave 10 players home because they did not meet Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

Eaton was one of eight players added to replace the regulars. His homer was the first hit of his major league career and came in his debut.

Royals left-hander Angel Zerpa (2-0), making his second career major league start and third appearance, allowed one run in five innings. He gave up four hits and two walks with two strikeouts.

Matt Chapman hit a home run for the Blue Jays in the opener of a four-game series.

Blue Jays right-hander Kevin Gausman (6-7) allowed two runs, seven hits and two walks while striking out six in six innings. It was Gausman’s first start since July 2, when he suffered a bruised ankle on a comebacker.

Nicky Lopez led off the fifth inning with a double to left field. Sebastian Rivero sacrificed him to third. Olivares hit an RBI single to right field but was out trying for a double. Witt followed with his 13th home run of the season.

Chapman led off the bottom of the fifth with his 14th home run of the season.

Jackson Kowar replaced Zerpa and pitched around a double in the sixth and a single in the seventh.

Adam Cimber and Anthony Banda gave up three singles in the eighth, but the Blue Jays avoided allowing any runs. A key play came when pinch runner Brewer Hicklen was out after he slipped rounding second on Witt’s infield hit.

Eaton homered against Banda in the ninth.

Scott Barlow pitched the ninth to earn his 16th save.

The 10 players the Royals placed on the restricted list due to not meeting Canadian vaccine requirements: pitchers Brad Keller, Dylan Coleman and Brady Singer; catchers Cam Gallagher and MJ Melendez; infielders Hunter Dozier and Whit Merrifield; and outfielders Andrew Benintendi, Kyle Isbel and Michael A. Taylor.

The Royals added eight players: Zerpa, catchers Rivero and Freddy Fermin; infielders Maikel Garcia, Nick Pratto and Michael Massey; and outfielders Eaton and Hicklen.

–Field Level Media