Royals try something new: Alex Gordon hits first, Eric Hosmer third

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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.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.