The shuffling in the upper half of the Royals lineup appears to have halted. At least for now.
By SAM MCDOWELL and BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
After back-to-back impressive offensive outputs by their standards, anyway the Royals have found a lineup that manager Ned Yost says he would prefer to stick with for the foreseeable future.
That means more of Eric Hosmer batting second and Salvy Perez hitting third new spots for both hitters this season.
So far, so good.
With a 7-3 win against the Twins on Thursday, the Royals scored four or more runs in back-to-back games for the first time since May 20-21. They hit that number for the third straight game Friday.
More important, they improved to 3-0 with their new-look lineup, which began with Alex Gordon, Hosmer, Perez and Billy Butler occupying the top four spots, respectively.
A big reason for the increased output, Yost said, is Perezs return from a nine-game absence following the death of his maternal grandmother in Venezuela.
He brings a consistent approach hes a contact guy with power, Yost said.
Hes just a spark to the offense with his energy in the dugout and his energy in the game. He does provide a spark.
In his first two games back, Perez collected three hits, scored three runs and drove in two.
He sparked the Royals offense again Friday, blasting a two-run home run over the left-field bullpen in the fourth inning.
Shields still unlucky
Over the past three days, the Royals have put a franchise-record home losing streak behind them.
But a different string, this one of tough luck, continues.
Starting pitcher James Shields received a second consecutive no-decision Friday, and he remains winless over his past seven starts. Setup man Kelvin Herrera got Fridays win, improving to 3-4. He now has more victories than the Royals ace. Shields stayed at 2-6.
Bottom line is we won the game, and thats all that matters, Shields said. Were on a nice little roll here.
The good news, for its worth, is Shields winless streak isnt indicative of his performance on the mound. Since defeating his former team, Tampa, on April 30, Shields has compiled a 2.65 earned run average over seven starts.
We had for opportunities to put runs on the board and did not capitalize on it, Astros manager Bo Porter said. Give him credit he made some good pitches during those situations and got some big strikeouts.
The only change to Fridays lineup came in the Nos. 5-7 spots. Miguel Tejada started in place of Mike Moustakas at third base.
Tejada slid into the No. 7 spot, moving Lorenzo Cain (fifth) and David Lough (sixth) up one rung in the order.
Tejada hadnt played in a couple of days, Yost said. And with a lefty going (today), well probably also give Moose a break then, too. Give Miggy a couple of games.
Moustakas is three for 19 in June with no RBIs. Hes hitting .180 this season.
I know no one wants to hear it, but hes getting closer, Yost said.
Right-hander Felipe Paulino remains on schedule in his recovery from Tommy John surgery and expects to begin his minor-league rehab assignment Tuesday for Class AA Northwest Arkansas against Arkansas.
My arm feels great, he said. Thats the big thing.
Paulino, 29, underwent surgery last July 3 to repair a torn elbow ligament. He threw 68 pitches over five innings Thursday in his final scheduled outing in extended spring training and is tentatively slotted for 70-75 pitches Tuesday. in his first official rehab start.
Rules limit minor-league rehab assignments to 30 days for pitchers.
Pitcher Kyle Smith of High-A Wilmington has been selected to represent the Carolina League in the Carolina-California League All-Star Game, set for June 18 in San Jose, Calif.
Smith, the Royals fourth-round selection in the 2011 draft, has compiled a 4-1 record and 1.92 earned run average in 11 starts this season. A 6-foot right-hander, he has struck out 62 batters in 61 innings.
Pitch, Hit and Run
Kauffman Stadium will play host to the Royals championship round of the Pitch, Hit & Run program presented by Scotts. In all, 24 kids from the Kansas City area, ages 7-14, will compete Saturday morning for a spot in the national finals. This years finals will be held at next months All-Star Game at Citi Field, home to the New York Mets.
Eric Hosmer was the first Pitch, Hit & Run national finalist to reach the major leagues. He participated in the competition in 1998 at the All-Star Game in Denver.