Aggressive base running paid off and proved costly Thursday night in the Royals’ 3-2 win over the Brewers.
With two outs in the second and the Royals leading 2-0, shortstop Alcides Escobar manufactured a run with his legs by stealing second base with two outs and then scoring from second on a Mike Moustakas single.
It was Escobar’s fifth stolen base of the season.
Left fielder Alex Gordon nearly replicated the feat the next inning, as he successfully beat Brewers’ catcher Jonathan Lucroy’s throw and swiped second with two outs for his first steal of the season. That almost led to another run, but Shane Peterson threw Gordon out at the plate after Salvador Perez singled to left and third-base coach Mike Jirschele waved Gordon home.
Manager Ned Yost said Brewers’ starter Jimmy Nelson’s slow delivery to the plate allowed the Royals to take chances.
“If you could tell, we were aggressive on the basepaths because we had the opportunity to,” Yost said. “Nelson was 1.3, 1.35 (seconds to the plate), in that area, where we can take chances in stealing bases.”
Two base running mistakes torpedoed the Royals’ fourth inning. Lucroy caught Omar Infante stealing second base for the second out of the frame. Two batters later, Escobar got caught in between first and second when the ball hopped away from Lucroy and Escobar strayed to far from the bag. Lucroy threw behind him to first base to end the inning.
Escobar thought the ball had bounced further in the dirt, he said. But he also added the assertive approach helps win ballgames.
“Just continue to play like that, aggressive on the bases, aggressive at home plate,” Escobar said. “Things like that (helps us) continue to win the game.”
▪ For the third straight night, the Royals got a solid outing from their starting pitcher.
Following in the footsteps of Chris Young and Joe Blanton, Jeremy Guthrie struck out four in six innings of two-run ball, allowing seven hits along the way and issuing zero walks on the way to his fifth win of the year.
He, too, mentioned a more aggressive approach — on the hill, though. It’s led to his increased strikeout numbers, he said.
“(I’m) trying to be more aggressive but also smart ahead in the count,” Guthrie said. “Been able to do a little bit of a better job mixing in the heights and the locations of pitches which I think has helped me get a few more strikeouts.
“I feel like for the most part my command was pretty good.”
Both runs came in the fifth inning, and outside of the fifth frame, Guthrie scattered five hits, retiring the side in the fourth and sixth frames.
Guthrie was pleased with his efficiency, as he threw only 67 pitches.
“I was able to get outs on the board with my pitches,” Guthrie said. “It did surprise me that there were so few pitches thrown. It didn’t feel like one of those games where it was ‘Quick, quick, quick,’ although it was happening that way.”
Thursday night’s outing improved Guthrie’s interleague record to 4-1 with the Royals and was his first win since May 20.
Guthrie is also now five strikeouts shy of reaching 1,000 career strikeouts.
To reach Chris Bumbaca, send email to email@example.com