Having scored five runs while losing their last four games, the Royals opted for a lineup shakeup on Wednesday against the Rangers and right-hander Alexi Ogando:
1. Alex Gordon – LF
2. Melky Cabrera – CF
3. Eric Hosmer – 1B
4. Jeff Francoeur – RF
5. Billy Butler – DH
6. Wilson Betemit – 3B
7. Matt Treanor – C
8. Chris Getz – 2B
9. Alcides Escobar – SS
It seems worth a try, even though Gordon is slumping badly at the moment. Coincidence or not, he’s batting .191 in 68 at-bats since the Royals decided to shift him from left field to first base for a couple of games.
Primarily batting sixth, Hosmer is hitting .270/.349/.568 in 37 at-bats since his callup earlier this month. He did bat third once before when Gordon was getting a night off, and he homered in that one to help the Royals beat the Yankees.
The questionable choice is to bat Francoeur in the cleanup spot against a righty. He’s hitting .220 in his last 11 games and his OPS is 400 points higher against lefties this season. Butler is struggling as well, but he has a .386 OBP against righties this year, compared to Francoeur’s .323 mark. With only one major league hitter behind him, it’s hard to like his chances of scoring after a double or a walk.
Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas belted his 37th home run on Wednesday evening, setting a new club record for homers in a single season. Moustakas had been tied with Steve Balboni, who hit 36 home runs in 1985.
The home run came on a 2-0, 82 MPH slider from Blue Jays reliever Carlos Ramirez, boosting the Royals’ lead to 13-0 in the top of the sixth inning.
Moustakas, 29, entered the night batting .271/.313/.523 with 82 RBI and 71 runs scored in 560 plate appearances.
Red Sox starter Chris Sale recorded his 300th strikeout of the 2017 season on Wednesday night against the Orioles. The momentous occasion occurred with two outs in the eighth inning. Facing Ryan Flaherty, Sale threw a slider that caught the strike zone low and inside for called strike three.
Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strikeout 300-plus batters in a season in the last 15 years. Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson accomplished the feat in 2002, and Johnson also did it in 2001 and 2000. Pedro Martinez had been the only other Red Sox pitcher to have a 300-strikeout season.
Through eight scoreless innings, Sale limited the Orioles to four hits with no walks and 13 strikeouts. The Red Sox offense gave him plenty of run support. Mookie Betts and Devin Marrero each hit two-run home runs in the fourth. Hanley Ramirez added a two-run double in the sixth and Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run double of his own in the eighth to make it 8-0.