David Lough rose rapidly through the Royals’ farm system after being drafted in the 11th round of the 2007 major-league baseball first-year player draft from Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
By the start of his fourth season, Lough had reached Class AAA Omaha and appeared poised for a big-league breakthrough, but that coveted call to join the parent club didn’t come — not in 2010 nor 2011.
Finally, after 130 games with the Storm Chasers in his third full season at Class AAA, Lough, who also played football in college, debuted Saturday at Kauffman Stadium.
“I enjoyed seeing him get his first major-league hit,” manager Ned Yost said Sunday morning when asked to assess Lough’s debut. “I know how hard he’s worked to get here. He did a nice job and played well in the outfield.”
Lough, in fact, singled twice in the second game of the nightcap and earned a second straight start Sunday afternoon, adding another single and his first career extra-base hit — a hustle double in the second inning.
“It’s been an amazing experience,” Lough said. “I was ecstatic when I got my first hit. Once I got that first at-bat out of the way, my nerves settled down a little bit.”
At least until he reached first base, where Twins star Joe Mauer was waiting.
“That moment went by so fast, and Joe Mauer’s there at first base, congratulating me,” Lough recalled. “I was so overwhelmed that I don’t even know what I was saying to him. It was awesome, but it definitely went by real fast.”
Of course, taking part in his big-league win Sunday was even more special.
“It was awesome, especially on that last out when everybody stands up and starts cheering,” Lough said. “I’ve never witnessed that many fans in a situation like that, so it feels good.”
Moose busts loose
Third baseman Mike Moustakas extended his hitting streak to a modest six games Sunday with a second-inning single.
Moustakas also stole a base and singled in the eighth, bumping his batting average to .400 – 10 for 25 with four doubles and five RBIs – on the current home stand, which continues with four games against the Rangers beginning this afternoon.
“I’m really proud of Moustakas,” Yost said. “He’s come in here after a real rough home stand and he’s made some adjustments. He’s as hot as anybody we’ve got right now.”
Before returning to Kauffman Stadium, Moustakas went just one for 23 in six games during a seven-game road swing through Tampa Bay and Boston.
Escobar likely to rest
Taking a second straight zero-for-five collar, which extended a hitless stretch to 20 straight at-bats, Yost announced after Sunday’s game that Tony Abreu would start Monday’s opener against the Rangers at shortstop.
“We’ll probably give Escobar the day off (Monday) and try to get (Abreu) in at shortstop just to let him play as much as we can here the last month,” Yost said.
The move is as much a nod to Abreu’s recent strong play, including a tremendous defensive performance during Saturday’s doubleheader and Sunday’s three-RBI effort, as it is to Escobar’s need for rest.
“He’s been huge,” pitcher Luis Mendoza said when asked about Abreu’s weekend contributions. “Even though he doesn’t have too much playing time, every time he plays he does his job. He hits the ball hard and plays good defense, so he’s been huge for us.”
During Monday’s Labor Day matinee against the Rangers, which starts at 1:10 p.m., the Royals will face Japanese import Yu Darvish for the first time.
That could be bad news for the Royals as Darvish, 26, is 9-3 with a 2.73 ERA when facing an opponent for the first time.
Overall, Darvish, who signed six-year deal worth $56 million in the offseason, is 13-9 with a 4.31 ERA this season. The Royals will counter with Bruce Chen, 10-10.
Outfielder Alex Gordon said he hadn’t studied film of Darvish yet, but that he and the Royals welcomed the challenge.