The win was their 14th since the All-Star break and third in a row after Friday’s loss in New York. And really, it wasn’t much of a contest. After stranding two in the first inning, the Royals loaded the bases against starter Kevin Correia in the second after a Mike Moustakas double, a George Kottaras walk, and a bunt single from Alcides Escobar. Jarrod Dyson hit a grounder to second and Brian Dozier went home to get the first out of the inning.
Then the fun began.
Lorenzo Cain walked in a run, Hosmer drove in two on a single, Billy Butler drove in Cain, then Moustakas drove in Hosmer and Butler (who scored from second base, no less) and the Royals were well on their way. Correia didn’t come out in the third inning.
Hosmer added three more with a sixth-inning homer (his team-leading 12th of the year) to center and Kansas City added four more in the seventh. Ned Yost told reporters after the game that it was the least stressful game he’s had all year. It was so weird that Jamey Carroll – an infielder most days – took the mound in the eighth inning to save the Twins bullpen. Apparently, a Royals fan decided to cool off by jumping into the fountains in right field.
Guthrie cruised after a tough first at bat. Dozier led off with an 11 pitch at bat, but Guthrie finished him off for the first of his seven strikeouts. He walked just one and gave up only four hits.
Mike Moustakas added four hits, a career high of his own. Every Royals starter other than Alex Gordon reached base and eight different players scored runs. Five scored twice.
All of this happened on the first game of a ten game homestand that follows an 8-1 road trip. The Royals are playing as well as any team in the league right now and, thanks to their offensive explosion on Monday night, will have a Twins team in town with a depleted bullpen and a rookie starter going on Tuesday. Maybe it’s excitement. Maybe it’s optimism, but I could smell a sweep – though the final game could be difficult. Wade Davis is scheduled to pitch but may not be back with the team yet after going on the emergency leave list on Sunday.
So what did we learn with tonight’s game? For one, the offense can be very good when Hosmer and Moustakas are hitting. Even with an 0-5 from Alex Gordon – who had carried the team in the first two months of the year – the Royals had no trouble putting up runs. We learned that maybe Lorenzo Cain could be a viable leadoff hitter (although a few games aren’t a great sample to go with, Cain’s drawn walks this season, has some pop, hits, and has speed). We learned that Jeremy Guthrie, who might have some more rough starts the rest of the year, can still be very good on any given night.
We’ve learned that the Royals are 35-22 since June.
And 3.5 games behind a wild card spot.