MINNEAPOLIS — Designated hitter Billy Butler is chasing two personal milestones as the Royals schedule winds into its final days: 100 career homers and his first 100-RBI season.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Butler cracked the 90-RBI barrier for the third time in four years Wednesday by picking up three in a 10-5 victory over the Twins. He got No. 92 in Thursdays 4-3 loss before getting ejected in the 10th inning for arguing a called strike in an RBI situation.
That leaves 19 games for Butler to get eight more RBIs to reach triple figures.
That means guys in front of me are getting on, he said, and Im hitting well in those situations. Im going to continue to grind it out. I want to see if I can get to 100. That would be a great accomplishment. Im just going to keep grinding.
Butler had a career-best 95 RBIs a year ago after getting 93 in 2009. No Royals player has reached triple figures since Carlos Beltran finished with exactly 100 in 2003. The most since then was 97 by José Guillen in 2008.
While Butler talks of grinding in pursuit of 100 RBIs, he is now on a 25-game homerless streak since getting No. 99 on Aug. 17 in a 4-2 victory over the White Sox at Kauffman Stadium.
Butler thought he had No. 100 on a drive to deep left Wednesday in the fifth inning, but it hit the wall and caromed back to left fielder Ryan Doumit and Butler had to settle for a two-run single.
I was hoping it got out of there, he admitted. I did (think it was out), but I knew I hit it with a little bit of topspin. The ball wasnt really carrying (Wednesday). Salvy (Perez) got one out, but Salvy is really strong.
Butler would be the 12th player in franchise history to reach 100 homers.
The others are: George Brett 317, Mike Sweeney 197, Amos Otis 193, Hal McRae 169, Frank White 160, John Mayberry 143, Danny Tartabull 124, Beltran 123, Steve Balboni 119, Bo Jackson 109 and Mike Macfarlane 103.
The bullpen collapse in Thursdays loss single runs in each of the last three innings was such a surprise because the relief corps has been on such a positive run.
The Royals entered the night with the bullpen earned-run average below 3.00 specifically to 2.998. That ranked third in the American League behind Oakland (2.81) and Tampa Bay (2.88).
The Royals relief corps allowed just two runs in 132/3 innings through the first five games of the road trip before yielding three runs in three-plus innings in Thursdays loss.
Even so, the unit still has a 2.30 ERA since July 31, when roles were slightly revamped after a trade sent closer Jonathan Broxton to Cincinnati.
I feel I can protect a one-run lead from the sixth inning on, manager Ned Yost said. Thats a nice feeling to have.
Thats why Thursdays loss stung.
They beat our best out there, Yost admitted.
The Royals will put their future on display today by bringing the players and pitchers of the year from seven of their eight minor-league affiliates to Kauffman Stadium for an awards ceremony.
The two Class AAA Omaha recipients outfielder Wil Myers and right-handed pitcher Jake Odorizzi are still taking part in the Pacific Coast League championship series, which resumes today.
Plans call for the recipients to take part in an autograph session from 5:30-6:15 p.m. near Gate A before getting their awards in a pregame ceremony.
Class AA Northwest Arkansas: infielder Christian Colón and right-hander Michael Mariot.
Class A Wilmington: outfielder Whit Merrifield and right-hander Yordano Ventura.
Class A Kane County: outfielder Jorge Bonifacio and right-hander Angel Baez.
Short-season Idaho Falls: outfielder Ethan Chapman and left-hander Sam Selman.
Short-season Burlington: outfielder Bubba Starling and left-hander Colin Rodgers.
Rookie Surprise: outfielder Alexis Rivera and left-hander Matt Tenuta.
Dominican Academy: infielder Wander Franco and right-hander Miguel Almonte.
Omaha turns to right-hander Nate Adcock when it resumes pursuit of its second straight PCL title today at home against Reno, a Diamondbacks affiliate. The teams split the first two games of the best-of-five series this week in Reno.
Adcock, 8-6 with a 5.53 ERA, will oppose Reno right-hander Joe Martinez, 10-11 and 5.39. The fourth game is Saturday night at Omaha. The fifth game, if necessary, is Sunday afternoon in Omaha.
It was 26 years ago today Sept. 14, 1986 that Bo Jackson hit the first homer of his career. And what a homer! It traveled 475 feet to left-center field and remains the longest homer ever hit by a Royal at Kauffman Stadium.
Jacksons blast came while he led off the fourth inning against Seattle right-hander Mike Moore and highlighted a 10-3 victory over the Mariners.
And hows this for an oddity? The Royals used three pitchers in their victory: Mark Gubicza for six innings, David Cone for two innings and Bret Saberhagen for one inning. It was the only time all three of them pitched in the same game.
Cone was a rookie, and Saberhagen was returning from an injury.