Orioles know Pena can provide plenty of pop

Orioles know Pena can provide plenty of pop

KANSAS CITY -- Francisco Pena was in a playful mood during batting practice as he fantasized about hitting a homer on Saturday for his mom in honor of Mother's Day.

Well, how about two?

Pena outdid his pregame thoughts by hitting two solo homers against the Royals, but it wasn't enough to prevent a 4-3 loss. On a night when Royals starter Nathan Karns fanned a career-high 12 in only five innings, Pena knew something his teammates didn't.

He homered off Karns in the third and the fifth and the Orioles enjoyed a 2-1 lead at that point. But the O's couldn't hold on.

Nevertheless, it was quite a night for Pena, who faces an uncertain future in the coming days with catcher Welington Castillo, who is on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis, expected to rejoin the club early next week.

"To be honest, I said something playing around in batting practice," Pena said. "I was like 'Hey, when I hit a home run today, I'm going to say, 'I love you, mom' in the camera.'" Karns hung a curve to Pena in the third for homer No. 1. That blast came after Karns had fanned five in a row. Then, Pena got to a fastball in the fifth for homer No. 2. Both drives carried deep to left field.

Pena, who now has three career homers, showed Triple-A power in the Royals' organization in 2014 and '15. Some of those guys were watching from the bullpen as Pena went deep twice off Karns.

"I had all my ex-teammates there," Pena said. "I know they were not happy, but they feel a little bit proud watching me grow as a player. So, I think it was very special, and it was very special because it's Mother's Day weekend." Despite getting five extra-base hits from their catchers in the last two games, the Orioles are 0-2 in the series with a couple of one-run defeats.

Chris Davis joined Pena in the homer parade, but that was it for the O's offense.

"Frankie has that type of pop," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "But we just didn't string many at-bats together."

Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com based in Kansas City. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.