Royals designated hitter Kendrys Morales stroked career RBI No. 500 on Friday, and had to be told he had reached the milestone afterwards.
“He found out after the game,” said Royals coach Pedro Grifol, interpreting for Morales. “That’s just a reminder for him to continue to work hard and produce more.”
Morales’ single up the middle scored Lorenzo Cain, who had opened the third inning with a walk and took second on Eric Hosmer’s fielder’s choice grounder.
The base hit gave the Royals a two-run lead on their way to a 4-2 victory on Friday, and Morales became the 13th Cuban-born player to reach 500 career RBIs. He also stands 10th among all active switch hitters, a group led by former Royals’ outfielder Carols Beltran (1,448).
Of Morales’ 500 RBIs entering Saturday’s game, 112 have come with the Royals. He led the team with 106 last season, his first with the team. Morales was acquired by the Royals to replace Billy Butler, who had signed with the A’s after the 2014 season.
Morales carried his RBI knack into the postseason. He had 10 in 16 games, with four home runs.
To Royals manager Ned Yost, Morales’ run-producing success originates in his approach.
“He never comes out of it, and by that he doesn’t put too much significance in a certain situation,” Yost said. “He’s very stable, solid. He just goes about his at-bat.”
An at-bat that defines Morales’ approach occurred a week ago. As the Royals were mounting a comeback against the Twins, Morales stepped in against Glen Perkins.
The Royals came up in the ninth inning trailing 3-1, and got one back when Hosmer’s triple scored Cain. Morales quickly found himself down in the count 0-2.
“(Perkins) kept pounding the same pitch, but he found a way to hit a tough pitch down and into deep (right),” Yost said.
The sacrifice fly scored Hosmer and the Royals won the game in the 10th on the base-running heroics of Terrance Gore.
In a RBI situation, Morales is “more focused, and he’s been able to do that throughout his career,” Grifol said.
Plus he plays for a team with a “keep the line moving” mantra, one that is more likely to score by stringing together hits than with home run power.
“It keeps you in the ball game at all times,” Morales said through Grifol. “And you know if you don’t have success one day you can have it the next because guys on this team get on base.”
Morales had his first multihit game of the season on Friday, collecting three singles in four trips.
He went 1 for 4 on Saturday and is hitting .244 on the season.