SURPRISE, Ariz. — Royals starter Luke Hochevar called it “Arizona baseball.” And coming from a pitcher Sunday afternoon, those were remarkably polite words after the Royals outslugged the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 17-11 on Sunday at Surprise Stadium.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Jeff Francoeur, Billy Butler and Chris Getz each had three of the Royals’ 18 hits. Francoeur was just a single short of a cycle when he exited the game after the sixth inning.
“I was glad to see Frenchy starting to get his timing,” manager Ned Yost said. “He’s starting to swing the bat well. Billy had another good day. We’re just swinging the bat well.”
The Royals never trailed in improving their Cactus League record to 13-1-1. They scored three times in the first inning and led 5-2 after three innings and 10-4 after four innings.
The Angels closed to within 10-8 before the Royals put the game away with a seven-run sixth inning, which Francoeur ignited with a one-out homer.
It wasn’t a good day for pitchers, including (but not limited to) Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen — the top two competitors for the final spot in the Royals’ rotation.
“Nobody took a step forward today,” manager Ned Yost said. “It was kind of neutral. I just walk in thinking, after that game, the positive is we pitched well enough to win. When you score 17 runs, you better.”
Hochevar gave up a pair of two-run homers in his 31/3 innings. He had some good moments — including working around two one-out singles in the first — but the homers were no-doubters.
“It’s my third outing of the spring,” he said. “Granted, you don’t want to give up homers ever. But you just continue to work on the the things that you need to work on.”
Chen followed Hochevar and was no better: He gave up five runs and five hits in 3 ⅔ innings.
“I threw some really good pitches,” Chen said. “I mean really good pitches. But I didn’t get the call. All I can do is to keep pounding the strike zone and trying to make better pitches.”
Umpire Seth Buckminster did have a tight zone — on everyone.
Right fielder Jeff Francoeur had a breakout day after entering the game at seven for 27. He went three for four with an RBI triple in the third, an RBI double in the fourth and a bases-empty homer in the sixth.
“For me, spring is a process,” he said. “Always, every year, I need 60 or 70 at-bats to feel comfortable every day. Yeah, I felt great today, but with an off-day, it’s easy to lose it.”
Second baseman Chris Getz went three for four with two runs, two RBIs and a stolen base. It represented a nice answer to a big Saturday by Johnny Giavotella, who went three for four with four RBIs against the Giants.
The Royals had 25 at-bats with runners in scoring position and responded with 10 hits (a .400 average).
The Royals agreed to the Angels’ request to use a courtesy runner for Albert Pujols, who is recovering from off-season knee surgery. And when Pujols singled in the first inning, in came Matt Young to run.
The problem was nobody told crew chief Bill Miller, who halted the game when Pujols came to bat in the third inning. After a lengthy discussion with the two managers, Miller agreed to the rule-bending.
“I talked to Mike (Scioscia) about it before the game,” manager Ned Yost said, “and I didn’t have a problem with it on a number of fronts.
“One, we had a packed house, and they want to see Albert Pujols. Two, I want our pitchers facing Albert Pujols. I didn’t think it would be an issue.”
Pujols walked in the third inning and hit a homer in the fifth inning before actually exiting the game.
Right-hander Wade Davis remains on track to return Friday to the rotation after testing his sore shoulder Sunday by throwing another bullpen workout. This one came one day after he was scratched from a scheduled start.
“It’s getting better,” he said. “I’ve got another (bullpen workout) on Tuesday, and then I’ll be ready to go.”
Davis reported soreness, later diagnosed as inflammation behind his shoulder, following a three-inning outing March 3 against Cincinnati in Goodyear.
The Royals agreed to Texas’ request for an abbreviated “B” game Tuesday morning on the George Brett Field. The primary purpose is to get work for some pitchers affected by Friday’s rainouts.
The Royals have the second of three spring open dates Monday before resuming their Cactus League schedule Tuesday against Oakland in Phoenix.
Royals (RHP James Shields) vs. A’s (LHP Tommy Milone), at 3:05 p.m. Central time Tuesday in Phoenix.
“I thought he did good enough.”
— Manager Ned Yost, on on taking out Jeff Francoeur, who was a single shy of a cycle when removed after the sixth inning.
“If it was the regular season, I’d have probably stayed in.”
— Francoeur, in a deadpan response.
Countdown to Opening Day: 21 days