KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Here are the five points we take away from the Royals’ 11-6 loss Friday night to the Yankees. 1. Restoring order: The Royals have scored six runs in each of the two games with skipper Ned Yost’s new batting order, which features Alcides Escobar leading off, followed by Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer, Sal Perez and Mike Moustaksas.
Yost also went back to his switch from two games ago – Jarrod Dyson in center, Cain in right, Jeff Francoeur on the bench, and Elliott Johnson in for Chris Getz at second.
The Royals have looked like a potent offense with the new order – granted, it’s an extremely small sample size. But for a team that has struggled mightily to score runs this season, the new order has given the offense a refreshing jolt.
The Royals have hit five homers with the new order, including one each night from Mike Moustakas.
And if the Royals continue to hit the way they have the past two nights, they seem bound for a significant winning streak, considering how solid their starting pitching has been this season. 2. The two sides of Wade Davis: When Royals starter Wade Davis is good, he’s really good, like the five shutout innings against Minnesota, the seven shutout innings at Atlanta, and the six-inning, one-run outing against the White Sox.
But when Davis is off, it gets awfully loud inside the stadium. In his other three starts prior to Friday, Davis had given up 22 hits and 15 earned runs in just 12 1/3 innings.
Friday night, the wheels came off for Davis again, starting in the second inning when Yankees’ Ichiro Suzuki smashed a two-run homer to right field. Jayson Nix then mashed a double to left, and Lyle Overbay followed by belting a two-run bomb to right. Just like that it was 4-0.
Davis also surrendered a booming, run-scoring double to Overbay in the fourth inning, a shot that caromed off the 410-foot sign in center.
In all, Davis surrendered seven hits and seven runs in five-plus innings.
Why such extremes for Davis?
“When he’s off with his command, his pitches stay up,” Yost said. “What he has to get better at is when his command is off, to miss down. I thought his stuff tonight was excellent. He just made five bad pitches, and they were all up.”
Davis knows he wasted a big scoring night from the Royals’ offense.
“I made tonight a lot harder than it should have been,” a subdued Davis said. “I made a lot of mistakes, the walks didn’t help me, and they beat me. When I made mistakes, they jumped on them. That’s what big hitters are supposed to do and they did.”
3. Jarrod power: Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson might be the fastest man in baseball. But the diminutive Dyson (5 feet 8, 160) flexed his muscles Friday as well.
Dyson socked a three-run homer to right field – a no-doubter – to pull the Royals within 4-3.
It was Dyson’s first homer since September of 2010, a span covering 376 at bats.
I asked Dyson if he recalled his last homer, which also happened to be his only other home run in his major-league career.
“Oh yeah. It was September of 2010,” he said. “Kevin Slowey of Minnesota.”
Dyson knew his home run Friday was gone.
“Yeah, it was a heater inside,” Dyson said. “He (Phil Hughes) had come inside a few times in that at bat, and I just got started early and got my foot down early. I wasn’t trying to hit a homer – just drive it.”
The real significance, though, is that Dyson now appears to be in a dogfight for a starting job in place of the slumping Jeff Francoeur.
Many Royals fans have been clamoring for Dyson to start in center, with Cain shifting to right, and now Yost may have a hard time getting Francoeur back into the lineup, at least for a while.
Dyson’s home run, by the way, didn’t shock Yost.
“I think Jarrod is capable of hitting home runs,” Yost said. “Absolutely.”
4. Cano booed….again: Royals fans didn’t forget about Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, the captain of the American League Home Run Derby team at last summer’s All-Star Game in Kansas City. As you recall, Cano passed over Billy Butler for the team, and was booed relentlessly during the derby.
The booing seemed to rattle Cano at the derby – he didn’t hit a single home run during his time at the plate.
Cano was booed again before his first at bat Friday, and the boos rang louder during each of his subsequent at bats, as more fans appeared to remember who he was.
But Cano wasn’t about to get into a war with Royals fans.
“Whatever happened in the past is in the past,” Cano said. “I do love to come here and play.” 5. ‘No Mo Zone’: Yankees closer Mariano Rivera’s teammates had some fun with him during batting practice by drawing in chalk the outline of a body on the outfield warning track at the spot where Rivera suffered a torn ACL last year.
Rivera’s teammates also hung a sign over the outfield wall next to the “crime scene” that read, “No ‘Mo’ Zone.”
Rivera was spotted laughing repeatedly as he walked past the sign and chalk outline.