PHILADELPHIA — The way that Royals manager Ned Yost crunched the numbers Friday left Billy Butler on the bench as the odd-man out for the series opener against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Yost then watched his club collect 19 hits in a 13-4 victory, but … Butler will be in the lineup Saturday and Sunday while Eric Hosmer, who went four for five with three RBIs, will play a reserve role.
“That’s National League ball,” Yost observed. “That’s what you have to do.”
Yost chose to keep Jeff Francoeur in right field Friday in part because he was nine for 22 in previous at-bats against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick — and Francoeur went one for three against Kendrick.
Choosing to play Francoeur left Yost with a choice between Butler and Hosmer at first base.
Another factor: The Phillies are starting left-handers, John Lannan and Cole Hamels, on Saturday and Sunday in the series’ remaining games. Yost won’t sit Butler’s potent right-handed bat in those games.
“If I sit Hos today,” Yost said prior to the game, “he doesn’t (start) for three days. If a pitcher has never faced a hitter, the advantage kind of goes to the pitcher. Kendrick has never faced Billy or Hos.
“So the first day in, I’ll stick with my defense. Billy sits, but I’ve got a good bat off the bench. On Saturday (and Sunday), Billy plays first, and I’ve got Hosmer to come in for defense.”
Francoeur is also likely to start all three games — in part because of those Philly lefties on Saturday and Sunday but also because Yost appears reluctant to put Hosmer in right field.
More lineup tweaks expected
Miguel Tejada and Elliot Johnson, the roster’s two utilitymen, are likely to start Saturday or Sunday to provide the Royals’ lineup with additional right-handed bats against the Phillies’ lefty starters.
“Nothing is set in stone,” Yost said, “but I’m looking to play Tejada at third and Johnson at second. Then I can get those guys in the game.”
The Royals’ regulars at those positions —Mike Moustakas and Chris Getz — are left-handed hitters.
Tejada contributed pinch single to Friday’s victory. He also replaced Getz in Wednesday’s game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth and, after drawing a walk, finished the game at second base.
Johnson, a switch-hitter, struck out Friday as a pinch-hitter after not playing in Chicago.
The Royals had just 17 hits in their three-game series in Chicago and, really, were lucky to avoid a sweep. The collected 19 in Friday’s victory over the Phillies, including 17 over the final five innings.
“We found our offense,” shortstop Alcides Escobar said, “and everybody was swinging the bat well. Everyone did something.”
Every starting position player had at least one hit in Friday’s game. Sixteen of their final 25 batters reached base.
“You knew it was just a matter of time,” Yost said, “before we broke out and did some damage with our bats. Luckily for us, it was today.”
The Phillies recalled the 1980 World Series, when they beat the Royals in six games, by scheduling Hall of Fame third basemen George Brett and Mike Schmidt to throw out ceremonial first pitches for their home opener.
Schmidt and Brett were the Most Valuable Players in 1980.
Brett won the American League award after batting .390 with 24 homers and 118 RBIs in 117 games. Schmidt was the National League recipient after batting .286 with 48 homers and 121 RBIs in 150 games.
Comedian Joe Piscopo was also scheduled to throw out a first ball.
Right-hander Jeremy Guthrie is unbeaten in his last 12 starts — six victories and six no-decisions — after getting the decision Thursday in a 3-1 victory at Chicago.
Guthrie held the White Sox to one run and five hits in six innings, while striking out nine and walking one. The nine strikeouts fell one short of his career high.
Research by Elias shows Guthrie’s 12-start unbeaten is the longest by a Royal since Kevin Appier had a 13-game run from 1994-95. Guthrie has a 2.12 ERA in his 12-start streak.
It was 39 years ago Saturday (April 6, 1974) that Frank White hit his first career homer. It came in the seventh inning of a 23-6 victory over Minnesota at then-Royals Stadium.
Former Royals reliever Tom Burgmeier served up the leadoff blast in his first appearance against his former team. He pitched in 196 games for the Royals from 1969-73.
The Royals selected Burgmeier from the Angels with their 47th pick in the 1968 expansion draft. They traded him to the Twins after the 1973 season for minor-league pitcher Ken Gill.
White hit 160 homers in an 18-year career spent entirely with the Royals from 1973-90. He was inducted into the Royals’ Hall of Fame in 1995. His No. 20 was retired the same year.
• The Royals, before Friday, never had two three-run triples in the same game. The last team to do it was the Dodgers on April 30, 2008 at Florida.
• Bruce Chen, with the victory, evened his career record at 72-72.
• Getz’s three-run triple in the seventh produced the first three-RBI game of his 375-game career. He had his 12th creer three-hit game.
• Escobar’s homer, which came when he led off in the eighth inning, was the first of the season by a Royal. It came in the club’s 179 at-bat.
• The Royals raised their team batting average from .177 (17 for 96) to .257 (36 for 140).
• The Royals’ bullpen has allowed one run and six hits over 12 innings, which spans 11 appearances by all seven relievers. The unit also has 12 strikeouts and four walks.
To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, send email to email@example.com. Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.