Billy Butler knocks in seven in Royals’ 9-8 win over Phillies

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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.

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.

Angels demote C.J. Cron to Triple-A

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Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.

Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).

While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.