Eric Hosmer’s ‘game-saving play’ adds to Royals’ defensive prowess

06/08/2014 5:45 PM

06/08/2014 7:35 PM

Royals manager Ned Yost considered the decision a “game-saving play for us.” But to first baseman Eric Hosmer, who executed a tidy fielding gem in the second inning, the decision was academic.

“I figured right there, if it’s right at me, better go home with it,” Hosmer said.

The Royals displayed their trademark defensive prowess in Sunday’s 2-1 victory over the Yankees. An inning after Alcides Escobar stole a hit from fellow shortstop Derek Jeter, Hosmer cut down a runner at the plate to preserve a scoreless deadlock.

James Shields allowed the first three batters to reach in the second inning. After Kelly Johnson struck out, speedy outfielder Brett Gardner chipped a grounder down the first-base line. Hosmer made a backhand grab and fired a strike to the plate for a force out.

“A lot of first basemen would just take the out at first,” Yost said. “It’s early in the game. Hoz made a great play there.”

Don’t ask about the lineup

The Royals lineup remains somewhat confounding, as the team’s best hitter, Alex Gordon, bats fifth. And their second best hitter, Lorenzo Cain, bats seventh.

Cain slashed an RBI double on Sunday, and scalded two other lineouts. But Yost does not intend to move him up in the order, he said.

“I like my lineup the way it is right now,” Yost said.

Infante snaps skid

With a single up the middle in the third inning, Omar Infante broke an 0-for-19 skid at the plate. Infante had hit .137 during his first 12 games back from the disabled list, but Yost insisted Infante was not still hampered by the inflammation in his lower back that kept him out for three weeks in May.

“He feels good,” Yost said. “He’s just in one of those little slumps.”

Chen struggles in Omaha

In his second rehab start, Bruce Chen (bulging disk in lower back) absorbed a four-inning pounding for Class AAA Omaha. The biggest positive from the day was Chen pushed his pitch count to 56, and could jump closer to 90 in his next outing.

The bad news? Everything else. Chen allowed four runs on 10 hits. He gave up a solo home run to Oklahoma City designated hitter Matt Duffy.

The Royals are keeping mum about Chen’s role upon his return. But he probably will be stretched out as a starter, as the team lacks depth at the Class AAA level.

Whoops

The Yankees’ Brian Roberts hit a ground-rule double in the fourth inning when the ball went down the right-field line and into the stands. But it didn’t bonce in to the stands.

A ballboy, not realizing it was a live ball, grabbed it and handed it to a fan.

One eye on the pageant

Class AA Northwest Arkansas pitcher Jason Adam was glued to the television Sunday night. Adam, who graduated from Blue Valley Northwest, was watching his girlfriend Kelsey Miller compete in the Miss USA pageant. Miller, aka Miss Delaware, and Adam met when he was pitching for Class A-Advanced Wilmington in 2012.

To reach Andy McCullough, call 816-234-4370 or send email to rmccullough@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/McCulloughStar.

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