Firsts for Billy Butler, Justin Maxwell fuel Royals’ rally

04/19/2014 11:36 PM

04/19/2014 11:36 PM

For Billy Butler and Justin Maxwell, the Royals’ 5-4 victory Saturday over the Twins marked some firsts.

Butler collected his first extra base hit of the season, a double to right field that was a key hit in the Royals’ five-run fourth inning.

An inning later, Butler added a single for his first multihit game of the year.

Maxwell also pitched in during the fourth inning, smacking an RBI single, his first base hit of the year.

“You try to have good at bats,” Maxwell said. “They’re limited, so you try to make the most of them.”

Maxwell is expected to play center field for the third straight day on Sunday. The Royals are down two outfielders. Lorenzo Cain is on the 15-day disabled list because of a groin injury, and Jarrod Dyson is on bereavement leave because of a death in the family. He’s expected back Monday.

Maxwell, who went hitless in the Royals’ 5-0 victory over the Twins on Friday, banged out his run-scoring single in his second at-bat Saturday.

Butler, who was dropped from cleanup to sixth in the batting order earlier this week, has hit safely in four straight games and added 50 points to his batting average, now up to .193.

“We’ve won five in a row, I couldn’t care less if I had an extra base hit or not,” Butler said. “I’m glad I helped the team today.”

Maybe there’s something about the cleanup spot for the Royals. Since replacing Butler in the fourth spot, Salvador Perez is one for 12.

One more Mariano

Bruce Chen’s first victory of the season pushed him closer to former Yankees great closer Mariano Rivera for career victories by a Panamanian-born pitcher.

Rivera has 82. Chen is 81-77 in 16 major-league seasons as a starter and middle reliever.

Escobar, again

The Royals have scuffled on defense for much of the season, ranking in the lower half of the American League in fielding percentage and errors, which is uncharacteristic for a team that boasts three Gold Glove winners and was expected to play to that strength again this year.

Maybe the last two days will be seen as a catalyst.

On Friday, it was left fielder Alex Gordon making terrific plays. Shortstop Alcides Escobar flashed the leather on Saturday.

After reliever Wade Davis mowed down the Twins’ Kurt Suzuki and Aaron Hicks to open the eighth inning, pinch hitter Chris Herrmann bounced one up the middle.

“As soon as he hit it, I said (Escobar’s) got it, routine play,” Davis said.

It wasn’t routine. Escobar gloved the ball behind second base, pirouetted and flung a strike to first baseman Eric Hosmer without stopping to plant.

“Those plays that look spectacular kind of become matter of fact,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.

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