Third baseman Mike Moustakas bottomed out from a batting-average standpoint in the sixth inning April 25 in Detroit.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
With a weak lineout to third, Moustakas’ average sank to .130 (nine for 69) with two extra-base hits — both doubles — and only one RBI, but he insists that his confidence never wavered.
“My confidence has been fantastic,” Moustakas said. “We’re 14-10 right now, so my confidence is through the roof. We’ve got a great team over here. We’re having a lot of fun, and I’m having a blast.”
Manager Ned Yost’s confidence in Moustakas never waned, either.
“I know there was rumblings that people wanted him on the bench and ‘Why is he playing?’” Yost said. “I can’t listen to that and I can’t subscribe to that, because I know what kind of a player he is. I never lost confidence in him.”
That faith has been rewarded since Moustakas’ final two at-bats — a double and a walk — in that 8-3 win against the Tigers.
During the last five-plus games entering Wednesday night, Moustakas had six hits, including three doubles and his first home run of the season, along with four walks, four RBIs and a sacrifice fly in the last 21 plate appearances.
“He's been feeling really good,” Yost said. “His last five games have been excellent. You can just see the way he's been swinging the bat. … When this kid gets going, he can carry you.”
Royals hunting wins
The newest decor in the Royals’ clubhouse is a yellow and white neon sign courtesy of James Shields, who had the sign — depicting a buck from behind and flanked by a “W” wearing a crown — custom made.
After every win, a player is dubbed “King of the Game,” which comes with a T-shirt and the honor of lighting the “Texas Hard-Shot” sign.
“It’s not necessarily the guy who plays the best,” Shields said. “We try to spread it out — maybe a key play in the game or something. … We know how precious wins are, and we have some fun with it.”
Yost welcomes the new tradition.
“The idea behind it is to celebrate wins,” Yost said. “You can win a ballgame and somebody can be oh-for-four and sitting at his locker and not be totally ecstatic, but when everybody gets together and celebrates victory after every game we win, it’s been a cool thing. Guys have gotten into it, and they thoroughly enjoy it.”
Winning April ‘not a big deal’
The Royals’ 14-10 record in April represents the second-best win percentage for the season’s opening month since 1989. The club went 16-7 in April 2003.
Don’t tell Billy Butler that seems like a significant step, though.
“That’s not a big deal at all,” he said. “We’ve just got to continue to play good. We’ve had good Aprils in the past where we played above .500.”
The Royals have had winning Aprils in three of the last five seasons, winding up 65-97 despite a 12-10 start in April 2009 and finishing 71-91 after going 14-12 in April 2011.
Still, it beats the alternative.
“Your April record means more if you don’t do good,” Butler said. “It’s hard to dig out of an early hole. Right now, all it means is that we’ve won more than we’ve lost. We’ve got so much of the season still ahead.”
Johnson starts again
For the second straight night, Elliott Johnson, who was a acquired in a seven-player deal with the Rays last December, started at second base.
“He had a nice game last night,” Yost explained Tuesday. “We’ll just ride it for another day.”
Johnson had two singles, a walk, a run scored and a stolen base during the Royals’ 8-2 comeback win in the opener against the Rays.
Yost also said starting second baseman Chris Getz was dealing with some allergy-related issues.
“He could play today, but (on Tuesday), he and a couple of guys had allergies that were really kicking up,” Yost said. “They were really drained. I sent him in from (batting practice). He didn’t even hit. He feels much better today. They’ve got him on medicine.”
Of course, Johnson also understood that Getz probably would be back in the lineup Thursday.
“My role is pretty well understood and I accept my role,” Johnson said. “I’m here to be the utility guy. If they need me out there, I take the opportunity. If not, my job is to be ready for whenever Ned calls my name.”
Gordon, Santana win monthly honors
Alex Gordon was selected as the Royals player of the month and Ervin Santana was the pitcher of the month for April, the club announced Wednesday evening.
Gordon, who mashed his first career grand slam April 25 in Detroit, batted .317 and led the Royals in runs (18), doubles (six), triples (two), home runs (three) and RBIs (17).
Gordon, who had a 12-game hit streak and 11 multi-hit games last month, now has won three of the club’s last five monthly awards, including June and August last season.
Meanwhile, Santana won the award in his first month with the club after going 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA in five starts. He struck out 31 with only five walks in 36 innings, allowing nine runs — eight earned — and holding opponents to a .235 average.
Royals announce new ticket plan
The Royals announced a new ticket plan Wednesday, the Brett Friday 5-Pack.
The plan costs $55 and includes five games hand-picked by the former Royals’ Hall of Fame third baseman — May 10 against the Yankees, June 7 against the Astros, July 5 against the A’s, Aug. 23 against the Nationals and Sept. 20 against the Rangers.
A limited number of buyers will receive a $5 gift card to Rally House.
For more information, go to Royals.com/FridayFivePack or call 816-504-4040.