SURPRISE, Ariz. — With winning a growing afterthought for these rocking Royals in the Cactus League, it is more notable perhaps that Saturday’s 9-5 romp over a San Francisco split squad featured a power display by Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Hosmer had two doubles and a homer in three a-bats, all to the opposite field, while Moustakas erased an early deficit with a two-run blast in a three-run fourth. Moustakas entered the game at eight for 14 but seven of his hits were singles.
“Real nice,” he agreed. “It’s still early in spring. I’m still trying to find things here and there. Tweaking with it. But we’re playing well as a team, and everything is rolling pretty good.”
Pretty good? The Royals rule the desert at 8-0-1 with eight straight victories.
Hosmer had doubles in the first and third innings before powering a homer in the fifth. All went, with authority, toward the left-center gap.
“That’s the side of the field I want to stay on,” he said. “Results honestly don’t matter at this point. It’s just based off feel. Today, the results were there, and the feel was there. It was a good day.”
The Giants who came to Surprise Stadium were hardly the guys who won last year’s World Series. Most of their regulars remained in Scottsdale for a game against the Cubs.
Even so, they jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first against Jeremy Guthrie by bunching three straight one-out hits: singles by Joaquin Arias and Brandon Belt before Hector Sánchez yanked a triple past third.
Hosmer’s two-out RBI double in the third cut the lead to 2-1. Alcides Escobar tried to score from first on the play, but Sánchez blocked the plate for the out after taking the relay throw from shortstop Wilson Valdez.
The Royals surged ahead with a three-run fourth. Moustakas’ homer followed Salvy Perez’s one-out single. Lorenzo Cain followed with a double and scored when left fielder Juan Perez misplayed Johnny Giavotella’s two-out drive for an error.
Hosmer’s homer made it 5-2 in the fifth before the Royals put the game away with a four-run sixth.
Jeremy Guthrie concentrated on throwing strikes in his two-inning debut — and did so with 31 in 36 pitches. He also gave up two runs and four hits.
“In the bullpens I’ve thrown, I haven’t had great command” he said, “I wanted to make sure I could move the fastball around. For the most part, I was able to go back and forth. I was just up in the zone.
“So in the first inning, those guys put some good swings on balls that were thigh-high — real hittable for them. If I could have gotten the ball down, they all would have been ground balls, probably to somebody instead of base hits to the outfield.
“That’s a small adjustment, hopefully, just to keep it down.”
Lefty reliever Tim Collins tuned up for the World Baseball Classic by striking out the side in the fifth inning. Bullpen mate Kelvin Herrera, also WBC-bound, retired the Giants in order in the sixth
Outfielder David Lough continued his strong spring by getting a single in two at-bats. He has eight hits in 15 at-bats. He also stole his second base of the spring.
The Royals announced one-year contracts with the five previously unsigned players on their 40-man roster: Aaron Crow ($1.28 million), Luis Mendoza ($532,000), Louis Coleman ($511,000), Guillermo Moscoso ($504,250) and Francisley Bueno ($492,650).
The players only receive the full salary if they remain all season in the majors. Players make substantially less if sent to the minors. Mendoza and Moscoso are out of options.
Projections indicate the Royals will open the season with a franchise-record $79 million payroll.
Outfielder Paulo Orlando, in the Royals’ system since late in the 2008 season, went two for four and scored two runs for Brazil in its 5-3 loss to Japan in the first game of the World Baseball Classic in Fukuoka, Japan.
The Far East round robin, one of four in the tournament, opened Saturday. The other three begin later this week.
Six players depart Sunday to join their national teams: reliever Tim Collins to the United States; infielder Miguel Tejada and relievers Kelvin Herrera and Atahualpa Severino to the Dominican Republic; starter Luis Mendoza to Mexico; and infielder Irving Falu to Puerto Rico.
Utilityman Elliot Johnson appears fully recovered from a bruised left knee suffered in Wednesday’s victory over Milwaukee. He is ticketed to play Tuesday when the Royals return from the first of three spring open dates.
First baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas are among four nominees to be the first inductee to the Class AA Northwest Arkansas Hall of Fame. The others are first basemen Clint Robinson and Kila Ka’aihue.
“We both might be out of that,” Moustakas conceded. “Clint won the Triple Crown (in 2010).”
An online fan vote will help determine the winner. Here’s a link to the ballot:
The winner will be announced prior to the Naturals’ opener on April 4 against Midland and be inducted in an Aug. 17 ceremony.
Right-hander Wade Davis makes his second spring start Sunday in the same place when he made his debut last Tuesday – Goodyear – but against a different team, the Reds instead of the Indians.
Davis worked two scoreless innings in his first outing. Also scheduled to pitch: Yordano Ventura, Justin Marks, Blaine Boyer, J.C. Gutierrez and Chris Dwyer.
Royals (RHP Wade Davis) vs. Reds (RHP Homer Bailey), at 2:05 p.m. Central time in Goodyear, Ariz.
“I mean, you guys are watching it. Pretty fantastic right now. When you get Hos getting three hits, all to the left side of the diamond. One going out. That’s a good sign for the Kansas City Royals.”
— Third baseman Mike Moustakas, when asked whether teammate Eric Hosmer looked locked in after going three for three with two doubles and a homer — all to the opposite field.
Countdown to Opening Day: 29 days