For the 105th game of the Royals season, manager Ned Yost crafted a lineup as if the preceding 104 games had essentially not occurred. The batting order was an almost exact replica of the one sketched out for opening day, with little concession given to the subsequent events.
Nori Aoki entered the day with a .661 on-base plus slugging percentage, which ranked eighth among the team’s regulars. Omar Infante entered the day with a .666 OPS, which ranked seventh.
So, of course, they batted first and second.
Eric Hosmer had missed four games due to a lack of strength in one of his hands. He needed to test out the injury batting practice. And he, of course, immediately returned to the No. 3 hole.
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And so on, and so forth. The lone acknowledge of the previous four months was Billy Butler. He had dropped from fourth, his position on opening day, to sixth. Salvador Perez replaced him at the cleanup spot.
Butler played the hero twice during the previous weekend’s series against the Indians. The team had just traded away Danny Valencia, who Yost had said might siphon away some time from Butler at DH. Now, with Valencia gone, Butler’s place was secure.
“If Billy keeps hitting, Billy’s going to DH,” Yost said before the game.
It is unclear how short his leash is. Butler appears to be the lone established Royal capable of losing playing time or receiving fewer at-bats. He had a rough night at the plate on Tuesday, making four quick outs. He could not hit a ball out of the infield. He floated a weak pop into the glove of second baseman Brian Dozier for the final out — on the first pitch, a slider over the middle of the plate from Twins closer Glen Perkins.
Jarrod Dyson stood at first base, but Yost did not expect him to attempt to steal. Perkins is a lefty with a quick delivery. But Yost had hoped Butler could plate Dyson perhaps with an extra-base hit.
“I’m looking for Billy to get a pitch that he could drive,” Yost said. “Obviously, he got a pitch that he didn’t drive. But it’s easy to second-guess those situations. It’s really easy to sit back and say ‘Geez, Billy, why didn’t you take a pitch there?’
“I haven’t seen the replay. I don’t know if it’s a good pitch to hit or not. I have to go take a look at it. But I’m looking for a pitch that he can drive in the gap.”
FROM THE STAR
The Royals offense produces little power and practices scant patience. “Guys are what they are,” Yost said after a 2-1 loss to Minnesota.
Here is a primer on the Royals’ targets — and the prospects other teams are interested in — as Thursday’s trade deadline approaches.
Vahe Gregorian columnizes Le Situation de Butler, and how that applies to the team at the deadline.
Here is Kathleen Gier with updates on Erik Kratz, Jason Vargas and Joe Saunders.
THE ROYALS’ PLAYOFF PERCENTAGE (ACCORDING TO BASEBALL PROSPECTUS)
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“What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?” by R.E.M.