The pitch was a fastball, an 0-2 offering that hung up in the zone. Eric Hosmer didn’t miss, thumping a 443-foot homer to dead center field in a 6-1 victory over the Tigers on Tuesday night.
The blast triggered a smile from the struggling Hosmer. The Royals are hopeful the moment could help the scuffling first baseman get back on track after a second-half slump.
“I’m just trying to find something, man,” Hosmer said earlier on Tuesday. “Obviously, the last month and a couple weeks, it’s been kind of rough.”
Even after Tuesday’s homer, Hosmer is batting just .192 with a .538 on-base plus slugging percentage since the All-Star break. After winning the Most Valuable Player award at the All-Star Game in July, he has failed to find the form that defined his first half. Before Tuesday, Hosmer had not homered since July 31. His ground-ball rate has ballooned to 60.7 percent, significantly higher than his career average of 53 percent. In recent days, Hosmer said, he has experimented with a quieter leg kick in certain counts, hoping to emerge from the malaise. For now, he is looking for anything to get back on track.
“That’s just kind of what happens in this game,” Hosmer said. “You just got to find something that works, so it’s just an adjustment throughout the game you try and make to get you back in that zone.”
Mondesi makes history with first homer
At 21 years and 20 days old, rookie Raul Mondesi on Tuesday became the youngest Royal to homer since Clint Hurdle on Aug. 19, 1978. Hurdle, who is now the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, was also 21 years and 20 days old.
Mondesi’s blast came on a cutter from Detroit starter Justin Verlander. Mondesi said he was looking for that exact pitch.
“You know, it was something special for me getting my first homer against that kind of pitcher,” Mondesi said. “It was a little cutter that doesn’t cut too much. I dropped my hands in front of it.”
In his first month in the big leagues, the athletic Mondesi had proven adept at bunting, racking up four bunt singles in his first 18 games. But club officials believe that Mondesi will develop a potent power stroke as he continues to age and grow into his 6-foot-1 frame. In 418 minor-league games, Mondesi hit just 31 homers. But Royals manager Ned Yost insists the ability is there.
On Tuesday, Mondesi offered a glimpse of his power potential.
“I’m never really looking (for) that,” Mondesi said. “I just go up there and do my best. I’m never looking for a home run.”