Batting third in just his fifth major league game, Eric Hosmer played the hero for the Royals on Wednesday, hitting his first major league homer and delivering a sac fly in the top of the 11th as part of a 4-3 win over the Yankees.
Hosmer’s fourth-inning homer gave the Royals their only run in seven innings against A.J. Burnett. They tied it up 2-2 in the eighth on a Wilson Betemit RBI single off David Robertson, and took a 3-2 lead in the top of the 10th when Jeff Francoeur doubled in Hosmer, who had reached on a walk.
The Royals, though, failed to hold the lead from there. Joakim Soria, not at all the dominating presence he’s been in the past, blew his second save after leaving a curve up to Curtis Granderson. The result was a game-tying RBI single.
But the Royals didn’t just roll over and die, as would have been their habit in years past. Soria got out of the inning, and a walk, a sac bunt, a single and Hosmer’s sac fly put Kansas City back ahead in the 11th.
Called in to pitch the bottom of the 11th was sidearmer Louis Coleman in his seventh big-league appearance. He got a flyout from Alex Rodriguez for the first out and then struck out Eduardo Nunez (who was filling in for the injured Robinson Cano) and Nick Swisher to end the game for his first career save.
Hosmer, who had his best night to date, is 4-for-16 with three RBI and five walks since his callup. His homer tonight was the lone hit surrendered by Burnett, who just hasn’t been getting the typical Yankee starter run support of late.
Soria’s run was the only one allowed in seven innings by the Royals pen. The Yankees had chances to take control of the game early off Vin Mazzaro, who was taking the injured Bruce Chen’s start, but he managed to hold the Bombers to two runs despite allowing six hits and walking four.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.