The last five times leadoff hitter Alex Gordon reached base starting a game, No. 2 hitter Alcides Escobar has tried to bunt, causing quite a debate about strategy.
By MATT KELLEY
The Kansas City Star
Royals manager Ned Yost said that while he hasn’t signaled for any of the first-inning bunts, he likes Escobar’s thinking.
“Now if he swings away, because he’s a .300 hitter, the odds are he’s going to make an out seven out of 10 times,” Yost said.
“But that three times out of 10, is it beneficial to us if he hits a single or hits a double? Yes. But it’s still beneficial to us to put a runner in scoring position to see if we can score first.
“That’s why I don’t have a problem when he (tries) to bunt for a hit in the first inning. The whole object is we need to score first any way we can do it. When we score first, our record is 38-16. That’s why I don’t have a problem with it.”
Escobar said Sunday that his intention in those situations is to bunt for a base hit and that a sacrifice, advancing Gordon to second, is just a nice backup plan.
Power on the road
The Royals showed an impressive display of power with 13 home runs on their recently concluded seven-game road trip to Chicago and Baltimore. The Royals had hit just 12 homers in their previous 19 games before the power surge.
“I don’t know if I saw it coming, but I’m not surprised by it either,” Yost said. “I think we’ve got guys capable of doing it, and quite frankly I’d like to see it on a more consistent basis.”
Yost pointed to last year’s late-season spike in power numbers as a template for continuing to pile up extra-base hits. The Royals hit more home runs (26) and drove in more runs (132) last September than in any other month in 2011.
“Does power develop a little bit later for some young guys? Yeah, because they’ve got to get used to the league, get comfortable in their surroundings and all of a sudden their power numbers come,” Yost said. “I definitely think down the road we’re capable of putting a lot of balls in the seats.”
And while Kauffman Stadium’s spacious outfield has held many would-be home-run balls, Yost said he didn’t expect the long balls to stop.
“This is a big park — this is a pitchers’ park. But I think we can hit homers in this park,” Yost said. “I don’t use this big park as an excuse. I think our guys have enough power to create those numbers.
“Opposing teams come in and hit homers here. We can hit homers here. It’s just finding your stroke.”
Dyson’s ankle still sore
Outfielder Jarrod Dyson was left out of the starting lineup again Tuesday while he continues to rehab his left ankle, which he sprained during an at-bat Friday.
“The ankle’s feeling pretty good,” Dyson said. “I could play on it if I needed to.”
While Dyson was available Tuesday to come off the bench, there was no indication whether he would return to the lineup today.
“That’s not my call. Whenever I see my name in the lineup, I’m ready to go,” Dyson said. “That’s how I look at it. Now, would I love to play (today)? Yeah.”
Even though speed is his trademark, Dyson wasn’t worried about the ankle changing his style of play, even if it wasn’t 100 percent healthy.
“Ninety percent for me is still pretty good. I think I move faster than a lot of guys at 90 percent,” Dyson said.
Cain moved down in lineup
For the first time since July 13 center fielder Lorenzo Cain started a game below the fifth spot in the batting order. He hit in the eighth spot Tuesday.
Cain was hitting just .100 in his five previous starts, miles from the red-hot hitter who occupied a spot in the middle of the lineup in July. Despite the small slump, Yost said his reasons for moving Cain down had nothing to do with his recent performance.
“We moved him down to the eighth spot for pure protection,” Yost said. “(The A’s) have got four lefties in the pen. If you stack your lefties, it just makes it easier for them to match up. Now, if they want to bring in a lefty to face Hos (Eric Hosmer, batting seventh), they’ve got to make a decision (with Cain batting eighth). It might make them mix and match a little more.”
• Tuesday : 16,107
• 2012 season (through 54 games): 1,241,769
• 2011 season (through 54 games): 1,069,648
• Ahead: 172,121
• 2012 average: 22,996
• 2011 average: 19,808