Mike Aviles has had a rough start to his 2011. After starting out 3 for his first 26, Ned Yost gave him three days off to clear his head, inserting Wilson Betemit into the lineup at third base and plugging Chris Getz into the leadoff spot in the three game series against Detroit.
Bad news for Aviles – they both looked great on Sunday in leading the Royals to a win.
Betemit went 4-4 with two doubles and a walk while Getz reached base twice and contributed two RBI sacrifice flies as the Royals beat Detroit 9-5. Luke Hochevar worked seven innings for the win.
The Royals had a little help, though. The Tigers committed four errors, including two on pickoff throws. But they also came through when given the opportunity, putting up 15 hits and driving in runs without hits on four occasions. They scored in six different innings and got production from everyone in the lineup. Billy Butler was the only player who didn’t score or drive in a run, but he added a double and was walked intentionally, so he wasn’t shut out.
Hochevar showed glimpses of what made him a standout at Tennessee and the #1 overall pick in 2006. Through five innings, he’d thrown just 70 pitches and had faced one over the minimum. He walked none and struck out six, though he did give up three homers. On the year, he’s given up six.
Things got interesting in the seventh inning. The Royals were up 7-2 when Brennan Boesch struck out. The ball got away from Matt Treanor and he overthrew Butler, allowing Boesch to reach safely. Miguel Cabrera drove the next pitch about 425 feet to make it 7-4 with no outs. Hochevar worked out of it.
The Royals defense stepped up again, led by Getz and Alcides Escobar. Escobar made a leaping catch of a line drive and the duo turned two double plays, including one in the top of the eighth with nobody out and runners on first and second base. The Royals tried to avoid using Joakim Soria by using Kanekoa Texeira in the ninth inning to protect a 9-4 lead. He responded by allowing three singles and recording one out – a sacrifice fly. Soria came in with one out and runners at first and second. He earned the save by inducing two groundouts for his third save. It was his seventh appearance in nine Royals games.
Kila Ka’aihue, for those interested, struck out twice, but did score on a Jeff Francoeur triple after hitting a single in the fifth. I wouldn’t be surprised to see he and Betemit swapped in the lineup for a while. Getz performed well in the leadoff spot, working a walk in every game of the series and otherwise going 4-10.
Aviles might want to get his head on straight if he wants to get back into the lineup. Betemit and Getz aren’t compelling Yost to make a change back.