This is what Royals fans hope to see this summer: Shutout innings from James Shields, a grand slam from Alex Gordon and a long winning streak.
The Royals pounded out 15 hits and beat the Diamondbacks 8-1 on Wednesday at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Ariz., for their 11th straight victory. They are 11-0-1 in Cactus League play.
Shields tossed three shutout innings and Gordon hit a grand slam in the fifth.
“We’re playing pretty good baseball right now,” said third baseman Mike Moustakas. “One through nine, we’re hitting, we’re throwing, Shieldsy goes out and does what he does for us, and we follow his lead.”
Gordon’s grand slam was on a 3-1 pitch from lefty Patrick Corbin and hit to the right side of dead center. That made it 7-0, and the rollin’ Royals were on their way.
“Three-one, I knew he was going to throw a fastball and not walk with the bases loaded,” Gordon said. “I was trying to stay simple, trying to stay up the middle the other way and got out in front a little bit and drove it.”
Shortstop Alcides Escobar did the damage early for the Royals. He singled with one out in the first and scored after singles by Billy Butler and Jeff Francoeur. In the fourth, Gordon doubled and scored on a triple by Escobar, who came in on an error when catcher Rod Barajas’ pickoff throw went down the left-field line. That made it 3-0 for the Royals.
Shields, who had a three-up, three-down effort on 13 pitches in his first start last Thursday, got off to a rocky start as Arizona leadoff hitter Adam Eaton bunted for a hit and took second when Shields threw the ball past Billy Butler at first base.
However, Shields struck out Cliff Pennington, and Eaton broke for third on a delayed steal. Third baseman Mike Moustakas saw it coming and alerted Shields, who threw in plenty of time to get Eaton.
Perhaps trying to dislodge the ball, Eaton ran into Moustakas, who briefly left the field, but he never left the game. Moustakas sported a nasty gash on his lip after the game, but he declined to address what happened.
All told, Shields threw 38 pitches, 24 for strikes in his three scoreless innings. He allowed three hits, struck out two and didn’t walk anyone.
“It was nice to ramp up a little bit in the pitch count, so I feel good,” Shields said.
Will Smith continued his strong spring with two hitless innings. He struck out two and walked one. In three appearances this spring, he’s given up one run on two hits in seven innings.
Gordon went three for four with a single, a double and the grand slam. He also threw out Paul Goldschmidt at third base after a single. Escobar was two for four with an RBI triple and two runs scored. Center fielder Lorenzo Cain went two for two with a walk and a run scored.
Will Smith made a nice grab of a ball hit back at him and threw out former Royal Mark Teahan at first base.
Chris Getz, in the running for the second base job with Johnny Giavotella, got the start Wednesday and singled in three at-bats. Catcher George Kottaras, who is going for the backup catcher’s job, struck out twice and walked twice.
• The Royals brought in three players from minor-league camp for the game: left-hander Jon Keck, right-hander Anthony Ortega and infielder Alex McClure.
• The Royals have trailed for only eight of the 108 innings they’ve played this spring.
• Inspirational speaker Chris Herren spoke to the team Wednesday morning.
Ervin Santana makes his second spring start Thursday in Surprise against a Mariners split-squad team. Also scheduled to pitch: Guillermo Moscoso, Louis Coleman and Donnie Joseph.
Royals (RHP Ervin Santana) vs. Mariners (Felix Hernandez), at 2:05 Central time in Surprise, Ariz.
“The guy just doesn’t have a feel for baseball. That’s all I’ve got to say.”
| Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas on getting tangled with Arizona’s Adam Eaton
Countdown to Opening Day: 25 days