Royals’ Butler continues career-long success against Verlander

Updated: 2013-04-26T04:45:36Z


The Kansas City Star

— Designated hitter Billy Butler collected his first three-hit game of the season Thursday and, in the process, became the leader in career hits against Detroit ace Justin Verlander.

Butler had two singles and a walk in three plate appearances against Verlander, which leaves him with a .418 career average (23 for 55) in head-to-head matchups.

“He absolutely is one of the very best in the game,” Butler said. “I just go up there and not try to do too much. Make him get me out in the zone. I’ve found some holes.

“There was a ball hit down that line that (by a few inches) could have been foul. I lined it just fair. I just try to put a tough at-bat on him. I’m just getting some good results. It might change.”

Butler’s two hits moved him past Twins catcher Joe Mauer, who has 22 hits against Verlander.

The rest of the all-time top five: Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski with 19, Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki with 18 and Nationals outfielder Denard Span with 15.

All but Suzuki either play or have spent much of their career in the American League Central Division.

Butler’s biggest hit of the day might have been his leadoff single in the eighth inning against reliever Bruce Rondon. It led to the tying run when pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson scored on Lorenzo Cain’s sacrifice fly.

Wild thing

James Shields tied a Royals record — and his own personal mark — by throwing three wild pitches.

He previously threw three wild pitches as a rookie in his 13th big-league start at Tampa Bay. That occurred Aug. 4, 2006 when he got a no-decision in a 3-2 loss to Curt Schilling and the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field.

The three wild pitches tied a Royals’ record. It’s been done 17 previous times; most recently by Kyle Davies on April 8, 2011 here at Comerica.

Lowdown on Shields’ change-up

Left-hander Danny Duffy found enough time in his rehab schedule to burnish his reputation as a twitterati black belt with a series of observations on the effectiveness of Shields’ change-up throughout the game.

A sampling:

#JamesShieldsChangeup builds treehouses with finished basements

Bigfoot tries to catch photos of #JamesShieldsChangeup

When #JamesShieldsChangeup was 12, it gave its Dad “the talk”

#JamesShieldsChangeup once turned a vampire into a vegetarian.

#JamesShieldsChangeup has won a lifetime achievement award. Twice.

James Shields' Changeup speaks fluent French, in Russian.

James Shields once struck out the side on 8 pitches. #WithHisEyesClosed

Two points: It is a good change-up; and you can follow Duffy for future observations on other topics at @DannyDuffy805.

Rested pen

The combination of open dates, postponements and strong starting pitching is leaving little work for the Royals’ bullpen.

J.C. Gutierrez and Luis Mendoza, a starter shifted temporarily to the bullpen because of the above circumstances, pitched Wednesday for the first time since April 12.

Tim Collins had pitched once since April 9 before working the ninth inning in Thursday’s victory; Bruce Chen has pitched once since April 10 and Luke Hochevar has pitched once since April 13.

“It used to make me a little concerned,” manager Ned Yost said, “that they may be getting rusty down there a little bit.

“But every one of them has come out — even after seven, eight and nine days (off) — and (pitched well). Gutierrez threw as well as you can throw the ball (Wednesday) night.”

Gutierrez worked two scoreless innings in Wednesday’s 7-5 loss to the Tigers.

All-Star ballots

The Royals’ nine starters are on the All-Star ballot released earlier this week and available online at

Ballots should also be available Friday night at Kauffman Stadium, when the Royals open a 10-game homestand with the first of four games against Cleveland.

Online balloting continues through 10:59 p.m. Central time on July 4. The teams, with the exception of one reserve in each league, will be announced July 7.

Michigan chill

The conditions this week in Detroit weren’t so bad; even Wednesday night’s frostbite test, according to second baseman Chris Getz, who grew up in nearby Grosse Pointe and played collegiately at Michigan.

“It’s not the norm for late April,” he said, “but it’s not unusual. I’ll say this: I’m not surprised.

“When I played at Michigan, we’d start home games at the end of March. They were so bad. It would be, with the wind-chill, like 20 (degrees) with a little sleet and high winds.

“You’re out there, and you’re near tears. That was so-o-o bad.”

Minor details

Two of the organization’s top pitchers, Yordano Ventura and Kyle Zimmer, failed to convert early leads into victories Wednesday night because they didn’t complete five innings.

Class AA Northwest Arkansas presented Ventura with a five-run lead in the first inning in a 10-3 win at Springfield in the second game of a doubleheader.

Ventura gave up three runs, two earned, in 4 ⅓ innings. He struck out six walked three and gave up four hits while throwing 81 pitches, including 52 strikes.

All healthy pitchers are cleared for 90 pitches, but Ventura walked two in the fifth inning before exiting. He is 1-0 with a 2.95 ERA in four starts with 23 strikeouts and six walks in 18 ⅓ innings.

Zimmer had a 3-1 lead for Class A Wilmington at Salem but hit 93 pitches at 4 ⅔ innings. He exited at that point with 11 strikeouts while allowing just three hits but four walks.

Blue Rocks reliever Andrew Triggs allowed three runs in the ninth in a 5-4 loss.

Looking back

It was 13 years ago Friday — April 26, 2000 — that Jermaine Dye hit two homers in a 7-6 victory over Tampa Bay at Kauffman Stadium.

Those were Dye’s 10th and 11th homers, which broke the club’s April record of nine by Dean Palmer in 2008.

That early power display by Dye created enough national attention that he was selected, though a fan vote, as a starter in the All-Star Game. He is the last Royals player to be voted as a starter.

Point of comparison: The current Royals, as a team, have 11 homers.


• Alex Gordon’s grand slam was the first of his career and the second of the season by the Royals. Billy Butler hit one on April 7 at Philadelphia.

• Gordon’s slam was the 111th in franchise history but the first in an extra-inning game since Danny Tartabull on Aug. 14, 1991 in the 11th inning at New York.

• Greg Holland worked his fourth straight one-two-three inning in closing out the victory.

• Thursday’s game started at 12:38 p.m. Central time, which made it an official delay of 30 minutes because of rain.

• Friday is the first Buck Night promotion of the season. Hot dogs, small Pepsi products and small bags of peanuts are $1.

To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, send email to . Follow his updates at

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