Brinson's walk-off lifts Rangers over Royals

Brinson's walk-off lifts Rangers over Royals

SAN ANTONIO -- In a split-squad game that involved the participating teams traveling approximately 1,000 miles from their Spring Training homes in Arizona, the Rangers topped the Royals, 7-5, in game 1 of Big League Weekend at the Alamodome Friday night.

One of the Rangers' top prospects, outfielder Lewis Brinson, launched a walk-off three-run homer off John Lannan that won it for the home team. It was one of five home runs hit between the teams, but one of the few that didn't need the short dimensions in right field to help it leave the park.

"That was fun," Brinson said. "Hit something to the right side, to be honest. I'm not trying to hit home runs. I'm just trying to hit something hard. He was staying away from me. I've faced him before, and he's done the same thing. I was looking for something up and out over the plate and to hit it that way."

Now that Big League Weekend is in its fourth year, the Alamodome's quirky baseball dimensions are not so much an oft-talked-about novelty as they are a briefly mentioned side note. Still, it's worth noting that the area around extreme right field, measuring 272 feet, kept the crowd entertained several times throughout the contest.

Before the game, Rangers manager Jeff Banister surmised the area in right center would probably factor into the game, and he was correct, only off by a few feet from where he guessed balls would land.

In the second inning, Salvador Perez and Paulo Orlando went back-to-back with identical solo shots to right-center. There was no "estimated distance" announcement made over the loudspeaker, but it's safe to assume most Major League ballparks would have contained these two fly balls.

Rangers outfielder Jared Hoying, on the other hand, launched a much more conventional homer in the seventh. It traveled to the upper deck in right field and knotted the game at 4.

Whit Merrifield's homer in the ninth -- also a right-field shot -- put the Royals ahead briefly.

Brinson's shot was one of the best hit of the night, sailing just to the right of straightaway center.

The World Series champion Royals are the visiting team for this two-game exhibition series that will conclude on Saturday. The host American League West champion Rangers garnered most of the support of the 27,536 in attendance, although several recognizable members of the Royals -- Perez and Eric Hosmer, to name two -- were also warmly received by the San Antonio crowd.

Rangers lefty Derek Holland, aiming for a healthy season after two injury-riddled campaigns, allowed seven hits and four runs -- including the two Alamodome-style homers -- with two walks and four strikeouts over 3 1/3 innings.

Holland was unfazed by the stadium's odd dimensions.

"I'm not going to take anything negative with that," he said. "You have to work with what you're provided, and I thought I did a good job handling most of that stuff going in there. [I was] working on the hitters, thought all my offspeed was real good and I was happy with that way things went."

Royals righty Dillon Gee, a good bet to crack the Royals starting rotation, allowed two runs on six hits over five frames, issuing no walks and no strikeouts. He, too, put the right-field line out of his mind, although he admitted he did check it out before the game.

"I've pitched in a dome, but never with a Little League right field," he said. "When I first walked out for BP, it's in your mind -- try to keep the ball from that side of the park. I got my work in today."

Despite that quirkiness, the spacious Alamodome and healthy crowd made this game feel more like a regular-season matchup than any they've played so far in Arizona.

"It's a break," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It feels more like a real game than a Spring Training game. We get close to 30,000 people in the stands -- it was a fun night."

Big League Weekend concludes on Saturday with first pitch slated for 2:05 p.m. CT.

Up next for Royals: The Royals play the second half of their split-squad, split-state two-game series, facing the Rangers in San Antonio at 2 p.m CT (live on MLB.TV and Gameday Audio) and the Mariners at Surprise Stadium in a 3:05 p.m. start, streamed live via a free, exclusive audio webcast. It's left-hander Matt Strahm starting for the Royals in Arizona, and Chien-Ming Wang continues his comeback in Texas.

Up next for Rangers: The Rangers will play two split-squad games again on Saturday, with right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez starting against the D-backs in a 3:10 p.m. CT game in Scottsdale, Ariz., that will be broadcast on Gameday Audio while right-hander A.J. Griffin will take the hill against the Royals at 2:00 p.m. CT in San Antonio. The latter game will air on MLB.TV. Both pitchers are candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation. Keone Kela is expected to follow Gonzalez in Scottsdale, and Cesar Ramos, Tom Wilhelmsen, Alex Claudio and Sam Freemanare down to pitch in San Antonio.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.