Billy Butler had a grand slam, a two-run single and an RBI groundout to drive in a career-high seven runs as the Royals topped the Phillies 9-8 on Sunday.
Butler’s slam off Cole Hamels was originally ruled a double, but it was correctly overturned on replay.
The Royals won today despite going down 4-0 in the bottom of the first. James Shields gave up five singles in the inning, the first two of the infield variety. He rebounded from there to hold the Phillies scoreless over the next five innings.
Hamels, meanwhile, gave up eight runs in 5 2/3 innings to take his second straight loss. The 2012 17-game winner has opened this year 0-2 with a 10.97 ERA.
The Phillies almost made up a big deficit of their own by scoring four times in the bottom of the ninth before Kelvin Herrera finally struck out Erik Kratz to end the game.
With the Royals playing in an NL park, Butler only started today because the Phillies were throwing a left-hander. He played first base, while Eric Hosmer took a seat on the bench.
Butler became the first Royal to drive in seven runs since Jose Guillen did it on June 7, 2008. He had driven in as many as five runs just once previously, collecting six RBI against the Mariners as a rookie back in 2007.
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.