OAKLAND, Calif. — Eight, it seems, is enough.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
After Sunday’s crushing 4-3 loss to the Oakland A’s, Royals manager Ned Yost acknowledged he “probably” will pull the eighth-inning duty away from struggling reliever Kelvin Herrera.
Herrera served up a leadoff homer in the eighth inning to Yoenis Cespedes that snapped a 3-3 tie. It was the eighth homer allowed by Herrera in his last 14 innings.
“They’re not manufacturing runs off him,” Yost said. “They’re not up there knocking doubles and singles. He’s given up 18 hits all year, but eight of them have been home runs.”
Right-handers Aaron Crow and Luke Hochevar along with left-hander Tim Collins are the leading candidates to step into Herrera’s role as the the primary setup man for closer Greg Holland.
“It’s a case of a young guy learning to pitch in the big leagues,” Yost said. “It’s about location. It’s not about how hard you throw. It’s about changing speeds. It’s about locating your pitches.
“Sometimes, it’s a painful lesson, but it’s a lesson that has to be learned.”
Herrera claimed he made a good pitch to Cespedes — a 96-mph fastball down and away.
“He just got it,” Herrera said. “Give credit to him.”
Yost countered: “It was in a hitter’s count (at 1-0). These kids aren’t new to the league anymore. (Opposing hitters) know Kelvin Herrera comes in at 97, 98 and 99 miles an hour. They get in fastball counts and gear up.”
Sticking with Moose
Yost said he never considered inserting Miguel Tejada as a pinch-hitter for struggling Mike Moustakas when the Royals put the tying and go-ahead runs on base with two outs in the ninth against Oakland right-hander Ryan Cook.
“I’m going to go right against right?” Yost asked. “I seriously thought we were going to win that game right there. I thought Moose was due. He took the count to 3-2, and he dodged some tough pitches.”
Moustakas ended the game by hitting a routine grounder to second, which capped a zero-for-five afternoon and dropped his average to .178. He has just one hit in his last 34 at-bats.
Tejada is batting .348 in limited action (eight for 23).
“I want to be able to produce right there,” Moustakas said. “I’ll figure it out. I’ll get back in there and keep swinging. And we’ll see what happens.”
Gordon strong on D
Gordon’s assist in Saturday’s game was his third of the season and major-league-leading 40th since the start of the 2011 season.
That is 17 assists more than any other left fielder over the last two-plus seasons and two more than any outfielder. Francoeur ranks second in the majors with 38 assists since the start of the 2011 season.
The Royals have 11 outfield assists this season which, prior to Sunday, was tied with Milwaukee for the third-most in the majors. They have 113 assists since the start of 2011. Houston ranks second in that span with 78.
It was 41 years ago Sunday — May 19, 1972 — that Paul Splittorff became the first pitcher in Royals’ history to get three hits in a game.
Splittorff got his three singles while pitching a complete game in a 16-1 victory over Oakland at Municipal Stadium. Steve Busby would equal the feat later that year: Sept. 20 in a 9-2 victory at California.
• The Royals have scored just 12 runs in their last seven games at the O.co Coliseum and are 1-6 in that span.
• Chris Getz had two singles and a walk in four plate appearances after entering the game on a zero-for-14 binge. That pushed his average back over the Mendoza Line (.193 to .209).
To reach Bob Dutton, call 816-234-4352 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter.com/Royals_Report.