Jun 28, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher James Shields (33) looks on walking off the field at the end of the fifth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Royals Finally Get James Shields Some Run Support

Jun 28, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer (35) hits a single in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

I imagine that back in spring training, Dayton Moore and Ned Yost had a game like Friday’s 9-3 win over Minnesota in mind when planning their 2013 season.

James Shields on the mound. Homers from Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer (TWICE). Some great defensive plays. That’s how it should be.

Butler’s homer was his first in six weeks. Moose’s drought had lasted seven weeks. When looking for culprits in this year’s offensive struggles, those are two big milestones. Nobody’s asking the Royals lineup to hit 40 homers each, but having a couple be at 20 or more isn’t too much to ask, is it? On the bright side, the last time Moustakas started to heat up, he homered four times in about two weeks. Unfortunately, he fell off after. Butler’s also known to heat up about this time of year. Sometimes this is the kind of night that wakes a bat up.

But when talking about a bat heating up, how about Eric Hosmer? His June has seen him go from slap hitter to slugger again. He’s pulling the ball with authority and jumping on balls he should be crushing. Brian pointed out the distances he’s put on his home runs this year, and Friday night’s pair of homers weren’t cheap shots either. In the fifth inning on Friday, he took a curve ball to deep right with a quick, sweeping swing through the ball. Just crushed it. Oswaldo Arcia in right barely stepped towards the wall.

His second homer came after he drilled a high fastball out to center field. A month ago, he pops it up, maybe flares it out to left for a base hit. He had been in a 1-17 stretch coming into tonight, but even with that bump in the road, his June line is .297/.339/.525 with five homers and twelve extra base hits. He leads the Royals in the following categories this month:

  • Base hits (30)
  • Stolen bases (4 – tied with Elliot Johnson)
  • Home runs (5)
  • Extra base hits 12)
  • Runs scored (20)
  • RBI (16)
  • Slugging percentage (.525)
  • OPS (.864)

Now, it’s obviously just one month, but by the same token, it’s been all month. Moustakas looked like he was figuring things out in early May, but it turned out to be a week-long stretch of productivity only and he then sunk back into struggles. He’s only now seeming to work out of it, as his June numbers have been good too.

So when do you start to believe? Hosmer’s been getting on base reasonably well, though he hasn’t been a star until this month. He’s looked better than Moustakas all year, though that’s not a difficult task. I trust Hosmer’s current hot streak more than that of Moustakas. But if both are rounding back to form, the Royals may have some hope left. The plan was to bolster the starting rotation and get breakouts from the Royals young stars in 2013. That really hasn’t happened, and, at the same time, Alex Gordon and Butler haven’t been as productive as the Royals had hoped or expected. If Hosmer and Moustakas can maintain their improvement, it makes things interesting.

On Friday, though, it sure looked like a good time. Shields got his first individual win since April 3o behind the Royals four homers and nine runs, and it’s about time for him. The Royals have won in his starts, and while the pitcher win is being less and less relied on as a measure of a pitcher’s value, it’s still fulfilling to see him get one in his own win column.

Even better – the Royals got to put on a hitting display in the process.

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Tags: Billy Butler Eric Hosmer Kansas City Royals

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