Royals need 'one big hit' to ignite another surge, Yost says

Maybe Sal Perez's homer at Tampa Bay wasn't enough. If the Royals are to emerge from their funk, they need another clutch hit to unleash another scoring barrage. And the players, manager Ned Yost says, are well aware of the urgency of the situation.

The last time the Royals went on a tear, Omar Infante delivered the clutch hit to launch it. But since that surge the zeroes have been lining up on the scoreboard for KC.

Michael Dwyer / AP

CHICAGO -- Like everyone else associated with the Royals these days, manager Ned Yost is searching for answers to his club's mind-numbing swoon of late.

The Royals went into the All-Star break flat, having lost three of four in a showdown series with the Tigers. And they have come out of the break even flatter, having lost all four games.

The American League Central crown is drifting away (eight games behind Detroit) and the wild-card race is as well (4 1/2 games behind Seattle).

The Royals now are in a fight to avoid dropping out of sight in the Central. They are just one game ahead of fourth-place Chicago and three ahead of last-place Minnesota.

Asked what it will take to break the Royals out of the funk, Yost said: "One big hit in a crucial situation. That's what usually gets us going when we struggle."

Actually, that seemed to be the case before the All-Star break when Sal Perez lifted a huge homer in the ninth at Tampa Bay to steal a win from the Rays. But that pulsating win produced no momentum as the Royals then played poorly against Detroit.

And when the Royals last went on a surge, it was an error by Toronto's Jose Reyes with two out in the ninth on a routine grounder by Perez that allowed the Royals to tie a game on May 29. The Royals then went on to win it, 8-6, in the 10th on a clutch hit from Omar Infante.

"It was an error that kept us alive," Yost said, "but we got a big hit, too."

The Royals went on a 15-4 run that included a 10-game winning streak. But they are just 9-18 since, mainly because the offense again has disappeared.

During the 10-game winning streak, the Royals averaged 6.9 runs per game. During the wins in the 15-4 stretch, the Royals scored 100 runs.

In contrast, they have scored just 35 runs (less than three a game) in the last 13 games.

That simply won't cut it.

And naturally, what's missing is not just a big hit, but a big bomb. The Royals haven't homered since July 10, a stretch of over seven games, even though the last four games have been played in homer-friendly parks.

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Yost doesn't concede that his team is completely powerless, actually suggesting that the team hits plenty during batting practice. But the long ball has been absent during games.

"It would make a big difference (to hit homers)," Yost said. "Instead of needing four hits to bunch a run, you get two or three and you might get three runs if someone goes deep then."

But as he waits for a power surge, Yost would like to be able to manufacture runs with steals and hit-and-runs. But those opportunities have been rare.

"How do you do it? We have not been in hit-and-run counts and we have not been in hit-and-run situations," Yost said. "It'd be nice to get in those situations so we could try something.

 "There's no little push-button pad in the dugout that I can push and put us in a situation. (The players) have to get us in that situation, then we can try some things."

And as the season seemingly is drifting away, Yost was asked if his players even have a sense of urgency in terms of the playoff race.

"Yeah, I do think so," he said. "They know what's going on."

They best start showing it.

You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at jeffreyflanagan6@gmail.com.