When Royals manager Ned Yost called his son, Ned IV, he started with these words: “You’re not going to believe this.”
Ned told his son that two nights earlier, Toronto pitcher Marcus Stroman had thrown 66 pitches against the Royals through seven innings. Ned IV was shocked, only to be told that Seattle’s James Paxton had gotten through seven innings Thursday night in only 57 pitches.
“It’s unbelievable,” Yost said, “but that’s our team.”
The Royals have long been known for this type of offensive style, ranking last in the majors in walk rate while being encouraged by hitting coach Dale Sveum to attack first-pitch strikes.
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The two games leading up to Friday still were a bit extreme.
Before Wednesday, Atlanta’s Williams Perez was the only major-league pitcher this season to throw eight innings with 85 or fewer pitches. That was before Stroman (85) and Paxton (78) completed the same feat on consecutive nights against the Royals.
Yost wasn’t apologizing for his team’s offensive gameplan.
“Our guys are aggressive-type guys,” Yost said. “When a guy’s out there throwing strikes, they’re gonna be swinging the bat. Sometimes, it plays into your game.”
The numbers appear to support the belief that the Royals benefit by swinging early. Going into Friday, the Royals were hitting .387 on first pitches, the fourth-best mark in the majors. Their .991 on-base plus slugging percentage on first pitches ranked ninth.
“When it works, it’s great,” Yost said. “When it doesn’t, people wanna criticize us.”
The Royals, who went 1-1 in the two-game stretch, had a chance to win both. Brett Eibner tied Wednesday’s game 2-2 with an eighth-inning home run before reliever Kelvin Herrera allowed two in the bottom of the inning.
On Thursday, the Royals rallied for two in the ninth against Seattle closer Steve Cishek to take a 4-3 victory.
“It’s just something you can’t change,” Yost said of his team’s hitting philosophy. “It’s what we are. It’s who we are.”
Minor-league infielder Raul Mondesi has been promoted from Class AA Northwest Arkansas to AAA Omaha, the Royals announced Friday.
Mondesi, a 20-year-old who is widely considered the Royals’ top prospect, played 29 games at Northwest Arkansas this season, hitting .267 with a .338 on-base percentage. He played only four games in AA after serving a 50-game suspension for violation of MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
While with Northwest Arkansas, Mondesi started 21 games at shortstop and six at second base.