Kansas City, Mo. Carlos Beltran spent time chatting with some old friends Friday night and reminiscing about his days playing for the Kansas City Royals.
Then he made everyone at Kauffman Stadium remember what he looked like as a youngster.
Beltran hit two-run doubles his first two times at the plate, leading a St. Louis Cardinals offense that matched a season high with 17 hits to an 11-4 victory over their I-70 rivals.
“You know what? It was good to be back,” said Beltran, who was playing in Kansas City for the first time since the Royals traded him in 2004. “But it was better to put a good couple of swings together and get some runs.”
David Freese and Tyler Greene added two RBIs each for St. Louis, and everybody in the starting lineup had a hit before the fourth inning ended. Jon Jay returned from the disabled list to go 1 for 5 and score twice, and Matt Carpenter came off the DL to go 2 for 4 with an RBI.
It was plenty of offense for Joe Kelly (1-0), who gave up three runs over six shaky innings to pick up his first major league victory in his third career start.
“It feels pretty awesome,” Kelly said. “I didn’t have my best stuff, but my teammates were awesome tonight. Good defense, and they really hit the ball.”
Most of the Cardinals’ offense came against Vin Mazzaro (3-2), who allowed seven runs, six hits, two walks and a hit batter while recording just four outs.
Mazzaro went six scoreless innings in a 3-2 win last Friday night at St. Louis.
“It was a tough one,” he said. “Things didn’t go my way. I didn’t get down in the zone.”
Just about the only bright spot for Kansas City in the opener of a three-game series was the return of catcher Salvador Perez, who had been on the disabled list since spring training with a torn knee ligament. Perez went 2-for-4 with a monster two-run homer in the fourth inning.
Otherwise, a day that started off badly for the Royals — right-hander Felipe Paulino went on the DL with a torn elbow ligament — kept getting worse with every pitch Mazzaro threw.
His first three were balls to Rafael Furcal, and he eventually issued a walk. Jay was hit by a pitch, and Matt Holiday singled to load the bases for Beltran, whose two-run double off the wall in left field elicited a roar from a sellout crowd that included plenty of red shirts.
Yadier Molina added an RBI single, and Carpenter’s sacrifice fly made it 4-0.
Mazzaro managed to escape the inning, and Kansas City got a run back on three straight base hits, with Eric Hosmer’s slicing single to left bringing home Yuniesky Betancourt.
Mazzaro gave the run right back — and then some.
Furcal and Jay started the second with singles, and after Holliday flied out to left, Beltran delivered his second straight two-run double. Mazzaro was lifted from the game to a chorus of boos, and reliever Roman Colon didn’t fare much better as St. Louis took a 10-1 lead.
“We needed to get our offense off to a good start and get rolling,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said, “but that’s not the kind of offense you’re going to get every time.”
It was the first time the Cardinals scored 10 or more runs in the first two innings since May 8, 2005, against San Diego, and their 17 hits in the game matched a season high.
Beltran was responsible for much of it in his return to Kansas City.
The six-time All-Star was drafted by the Royals in 1995, and drove in 100 or more runs four times over six-plus seasons. But the Royals traded him to Houston in June 2004, anticipating that they wouldn’t be able to pay Beltran the princely sum that he would get on the open market.
He eventually signed a seven-year, $119 million contract with the Mets.
Beltran landed with the Cardinals this season after a short stop in San Francisco, and faced the Royals for the first time last week in St. Louis, going 6 for 14 and driving in a run.
Beltran picked up right where he left off on Friday night.
This time, the rest of the Cardinals’ offense joined in the fun.
“It’s a good feeling any time you can contribute,” Beltran said. “This place brings a lot of good memories. Kansas City was my home for six years and a half, and I got to meet some good people. I have a lot of good memories from here.”