Royals flex their muscles, hit first homer of season in 7-3 win
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — OK, so the streak is over.
The Royals, the only major-league team not to hit a homer through the first seven games, got on the board when Alex Gordon clubbed a three-run shot Wednesday in a 7-3 win over Tampa Bay.
Gordon’s 396-foot shot put the finishing touches on the Rays, giving the Royals a 7-0 lead in the fifth inning.
"It was like icing on the cake," manager Ned Yost said.
And Yost said he wasn’t concerned at all about his club’s power outage to start the 2014 season.
"The main thing is we got three runs (off the homer)," Yost said. "I don’t care how we get it. If it’s two doubles or a homer or whatever. The runs are what is important."
Also important: Winning another series, the Royals’ second straight, as they evened their mark at 4-4.
— Pop in the middle. Gordon drove in four runs in a game for the seventh time in his career. He had a clutch RBI single in the fourth that gave the Royals a 2-1 lead at the time. "That’s why we like him hitting in the fifth spot," teammate Eric Hosmer said. "He can drive in runs."
Gordon said he thought he got all of his home run but wasn’t sure if it would carry over the right-field fence. "It’s a big ballpark, so you never know," he said. "I saw Wil (Myers) go back and thought he might have a play. But I think the wind helped a little."
— Jeremy settles down. Starter Jeremy Guthrie, as he usually does, wobbled early as the Rays had six base runners through the first three-plus innings. But after allowing a home run to Desmond Jennings in the fourth, Guthrie plowed through the Rays and retired 12 straight before departing. "That was so huge for Jeremy to go seven today," Yost said. "We were down to a four-man bullpen and he really picked us up."
Added Gordon: "It was nice that we could give Greg (Holland) a break. It seems usually when we win, Greg has to pitch the ninth."
— That man Esky. Shortstop Alcides Escobar continued to dazzle in the field. He made a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch on a pop fly — he gloved it, the ball popped out, and then he somehow grabbed the ball out of midair for the putout. He also made one play while throwing from his knees deep in the hole, and he also had two charging bare-handed stabs and throws for outs. "He’s going to have a Gold Glove before all is said and done in his career," Yost said.
Guthrie also tipped his hat to his shortstop. "That’s so big when you know you have a guy like him behind you making great plays," Guthrie said.
— No favors from replay. Yost made what seemed like a wise challenge in the bottom of the second when Gordon was called out while trying to steal third. Replays seemed to indicate Gordon’s hand hit the bag ahead of the tag. But the boys in New York said the call on the field would stand. Huh? "It was close," Gordon said. "What can you do? I guess it’s just like in football when it’s not conclusive (on the replays), the call stands." Looked conclusive to me.
— Base-running blues. The Royals have seven stolen bases this season but also have been caught stealing four times. That’s not the percentage they are looking for. And worse yet, two of the caught stealings were actually pickoff plays at first. Escobar got caught leaning the other way Wednesday and was nailed by Jake Odorizzi.
— Oh, Moose, Moose, Moose. Fans in Kansas City desperately want to see Mike Moustakas succeed. He’s a likable guy and fans love howling "Mooooooose" each time he comes up. But he continues to test their patience. He tossed in another 0 for 4 Wednesday, striking out twice.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagan or email email@example.com.