Royals

Nori Aoki struggles in outfield

Nori Aoki
Nori Aoki The Associated Press

Thanks to some quick thinking by right-hander Yordano Ventura, the Royals were able to cover a mistake and dilute one of Wednesday’s more dangerous innings with an improbable double play.

Pablo Sandoval had hit a leadoff double in the fourth inning and Brandon Belt knocked him in with another double to tie the score at 2-2. That’s when the infield defense stepped up to cover a rare mistake by the Royals’ outfield.

Nori Aoki caught a fly ball in right field, but his relay throw back to the infield missed shortstop Alcides Escobar. Fortunately, Ventura was there to field it and fire a rocket to Omar Infante at second base. He tagged Belt to end the inning.

However, that was just one of the high-profile mistakes made by the outfield in the game.

LorenzoCain missed Sandoval’s double in the fourth, and Aoki missed Belt’s double, which led to the play in question.

“I slid and the ball just deflected off my glove,” Aoki said through translator Kosuke Inaji.

Aoki was ultimately replaced before the sixth inning by Jarrod Dyson, who took over in center and pushed Cain over to right field.

“It’s not frustrating, but everyone wants to play until the end,” Aoki said. “That’s how I feel, and that’s how everyone should feel.”

It was the second consecutive night that the outfield defense struggled to convert the kind of clutch plays that helped them win their first eight postseason games. The team combined for 26 regular-season outfield assists — led by Cain and Alex Gordon with eight a piece — but have just two in the postseason.

To reach Kathleen Gier, call 816-234-4875 or send email to kgier@kcstar.com. Follow her on Twitter: @kgier.

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