Cain’s return creates a crowded outfield

09/09/2013 11:51 PM

09/09/2013 11:51 PM

A healthy Lorenzo Cain multiplies the possible outfield combinations these days for Royals manager Ned Yost as he fills out his lineup card.

Everything starts with Alex Gordon in left field but, for Monday’s series opener against the Indians, Yost opted for Cain in right field and a surging Jarrod Dyson in center field.

That put David Lough on the bench for the third time in five games, and Justin Maxwell for a fourth straight game.

“It all changes day to day,” Yost said. “We go on match-ups. This is all predicated on match-ups.”

So why go with one right-handed hitter (Cain) and one left-handed hitter (Dyson) against Cleveland right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez over another right-handed hitter (Maxwell) and another lefty (Lough)?

“Righties are doing better against Jimenez than lefties,” Yost said, “but Dyson adds that dimension of speed that puts the entire defense on its toes when he’s hitting.

“So today, the match-up I like best is Dyson in center and Cain in right.”

Prior to Monday, right-handed hitters were batting .259 with a .366 on-base percentage against Jimenez. Lefties were just .223 and .297.

Even so, Dyson got the call because he is seven for 21 with two walks and three sacrifices in his last eight games. He is also batting .280 with a .336 on-base percentage overall against right-handed pitchers.

Yost’s moves paid off. Dyson went two for three with a double, while Cain was one for three. The rest of the Royals were combined for just four hits against Jimenez.

“It’s a mix between the four of them,” Yost said. “The match-up I’m going to like best (Wednesday) against (lefty Scott) Kazmir is probably going to be Cain in center and Maxwell in right.

“And there are times when I’m going to like Cain in center and Lough in right.”

Pitching plans

Yost is pondering an adjustment in his rotation later this week to take advantage of the schedule’s first open date since Aug. 19.

That open date is Thursday — after the three-game series concludes here in Cleveland and before a three-game weekend begins Friday in Detroit. It’s possible the Royals could skip Danny Duffy’s next turn.

The move offers a few benefits.

Duffy is already at 93 1/3 innings in his first year back from Tommy John surgery after pitching just 27 2/3 innings in 2012 before suffering a torn elbow ligament.

It would also prevent the Tigers from getting a second look at Duffy within a week, and it sets up the rotation for Duffy and Chen to pitch in upcoming series against Cleveland and Seattle, which have lefty-heavy lineups.

For now, it’s only a possibility.

Speed pays off

Cleveland stole a run later in the third inning through an impressive display of speed by Jose Ramirez after he led off with a single to left for his first major-league lead hit.

Ramirez broke for second on Drew Stubbs’ grounder to third on a full-count pitch and continued running when Mike Moustakas threw across the diamond for the out.

Eric Hosmer’s return throw got past Moustakas, and Ramirez scored when Escobar failed to make a clean pickup on the carom off the wall. The Indians led 2-0.

“We made a bad throw,” Yost said. “Speed creates those type of situations. He made us make a play, and Hos hurried it a little bit. He bounced it over there.”

Chen is only one

How about this tidbit from the Elias Sports Bureau: Chen is the only pitcher in either league with four or more victories as a starter and three or more as a reliever.

Chen was 3-0 with a 2.04 ERA in 19 relief appearances before shifting to the rotation in July. He is 4-2 with a 3.28 ERA in 11 starts after getting the victory Sunday when the Royals rallied to beat Detroit 5-2.

Ticket offer

The Royals are teaming up with KCSP (610 AM) to offer a reduced price — $15 — on Field Plaza tickets for the next week’s three-game rematch against Cleveland at Kauffman Stadium.

The offer comes next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (Sept. 16-18) for the start of the regular season’s last homestand. The home schedule concludes with a weekend series (Sept, 20-22) against Texas.

The Field Plaza seats are positioned on the upper end of the lower level (200 level) from the dugouts to the bullpens. They typically sell for $33.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.royals.com/610, by phone at 800-6royals, at the Kauffman Stadium Box Office and 26 metro-area Hy-Vee stores.

Ventura returns for Omaha

Right-hander Yordano Ventura is back in the rotation for Class AAA Omaha, which opens the best-of-five Pacific Coast League championship series Tuesday night by playing host to Salt Lake (Angels) at Werner Park.

The Royals pulled Ventura, generally viewed as their most advanced pitching prospect, from a scheduled start in the first game of the previous series against Oklahoma City (Astros) for arriving late to the park.

Ventura, 22, announced his reinstatement on twitter shortly before the Royals confirmed it. He is scheduled to start Wednesday in the second game of the series against Salt Lake right-hander Tommy Hanson.

“Good afternoon my people,” Ventura tweeted. “I’ll be back on the mound in the second game of the finals thanks to God. #LetsThrowFire #playoffFire.”

Ventura was 5-4 with a 3.82 ERA in 15 games for Omaha following his promotion from Class AA Northwest Arkansas.

Omaha will start lefty Chris Dwyer, 25, in the first game against Salt Lake right-hander Matt Shoemaker. Dwyer was 10-11 with a 3.55 ERA in 29 regular-season starts. He did not pitch in the previous series.

The Storm Chasers are making their third straight appearance in the PCL finals. The beat Sacramento (A’s) for the 2011 crown but lost last year to Reno (Diamondbacks).

The series continues Wednesday at Omaha before shifting Thursday to Salt Lake. The fourth and fifth games, if necessary, are Friday and Saturday in Salt Lake.

Idaho Falls in playoffs

Short-season Idaho Falls took advantage of eight errors by Grand Junction (Rockies) in rolling to a 7-1 victory Monday at home in the opening game of the best-of-three South Division finals in the Pioneer League playoffs.

All seven of the Chukars’ runs were unearned.

Lefty Jonathan Dziedzic, 22, got the victory after holding Grand Junction to one run in five innings. He was a 13th-round pick from Lamar in the June draft.

Infielder Hunter Dozier, a first-round pick in June, had two of Idaho Falls’ five hits. The series continues Tuesday night at Grand Junction. A third game, if necessary, will be Wednesday at Grand Junction.

Looking back

It was 27 years ago Tuesday — Sept. 10, 1985 — that Hal McRae collected the 2,000th hit of his career. It came on an RBI double in the first inning of a 6-0 victory at California.

The first 167 hits of McRae’s career came while playing for Cincinnati. He finished his 19-year career in 1987 with 2,091 career hits, including 1,924 with the Royals.

McRae ranks fifth on the Royals’ all-time hits list behind George Brett (3,154), Frank White (2,006), Amos Otis (1,977) and Willie Wilson (1,968).

Billy Butler is the club’s active leader in career hits with 1,106, which ranks seventh in franchise history. Mike Sweeney ranks sixth with 1,398.

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