Royals hitting woes continue

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There’s no doubt that the 2012

Royals have hit into their fair share of bad luck.

Eric Hosmer, for example, in one three-game stretch hit six line-drive outs.

One turned into a triple play, another into a double play.

“That is some crazy stuff that only happens when a team is in a

funk,” Royals hitting coach Kevin Seitzer said. “It will change one

day. It has to.”

Meanwhile, just about every slow roller or soft flare that

the Toronto Blue Jays hit during their four-game sweep of the Royals found a

hole.

“That’s the definition of a slump,” Seitzer said. “Your line

drives get caught and the other team’s grounders find daylight.”

Yet not all of the Royals’ woes can be traced to bad fortune. Plenty of the

damage has been self-inflicted. The Royals have executed as poorly as any team

in baseball on offense. Situational hitting has been atrocious.

On Monday, in a 4-1 loss to Toronto, the Royals were 0-for-10 with runners in

scoring position. Three times the Royals had a runner on third and less than

two outs, and failed to score.

“We’re just not executing,” manager Ned Yost said after the game,

shaking his head.

In fact, the Royals, after Monday’s game, were nine for their last 62 with

runners in scoring position.

“It’s not pretty when you’re struggling,” Seitzer said.

Here’s some other less than attractive notes from Monday:

• Brayan Pena, who ended Sunday’s potential rally with a game-ending double play,

killed another potential rally Monday by rolling into another double play in

the ninth. Pena also failed to get Mike Moustakas in from third with one out in

the second inning when he struck out on back-to-back pitches in the dirt.

• Alex Gordon is 3-for-20 (.150) with runners in scoring position. With Alcides

Escobar on third and one out in the third Monday, Gordon struck out on a pitch

in the dirt. Gordon flied out with runners on first and third and two out in

the fifth and grounded out with runners on second and third in the seventh.

• But the fifth inning was, sadly, typical Royals baseball so far in 2012. Pena

led off with a hustle double to left. Mitch Maier, though, followed with a

terrible bunt right back to the pitcher, and Pena was an easy out at third.

Escobar followed with a single to right, advancing Maier to third. But Chris

Getz first failed to get down a safety squeeze, hoping to score Maier and give

the Royals the lead. Then, after fouling the bunt off, Getz popped out to the

catcher for the second out and Gordon flied out to end the inning.

“The only way to get through it is to go through it and stay

positive,” Seitzer said. “That’s what you learn in this game. Don’t

worry about every little mistake. Do your best, move on.

“It’s hard to tell guys not to try and do too much. It’s just human

nature. But you just preach to them, ‘that hey, the whole weight of the team

isn’t on your shoulder. Relax.’”

The Royals, as slumping teams often do, seem to be caught between trying to be

aggressive at the plate and simply not taking enough pitches. They are ranked second

to last in the league in runs and are in the lower half in the league in

drawing walks.

“You don’t get walks necessarily by intentionally taking pitches,”

Seitzer said. “That’s a good way to start the count 0-2. Right now, the

opposing pitchers aren’t missing.

“You generally get walks because the other team thinks you’re dangerous.

There’s a fear factor. They try to pitch around you. To be honest, we haven’t

been striking the fear of God in anyone lately, so it’s kind of hard to draw a lot of walks.

“Opposing pitchers don’t like to miss when you have a team struggling.

They like to go right after hitters. That’s what they’re doing to us.”

One statistic the Royals are leading baseball in is hitting into double plays

with 19.  Seitzer said there’s nothing

that can be done to control that.

“The objective is to hit the ball hard,” he said. “And sometimes

when you hit the ball hard, someone is on the other end waiting. I don’t have a

problem with double plays because you can’t teach the guys not to swing. You

can’t sit there and hope for strikeouts just so they don’t hit into double

plays.

“Some of the double plays, the balls have just been smoked. What can you

do? Double plays don’t bother me when you’re smoking the ball right at people.

They are part of the game.

“There will come a time when those hard-hit balls will find the holes.

Then our guys will start to relax. Then you start to swing at better pitches.

Then pitchers start to fear you and they walk you. That’s how the cycle

works.”