When Billy Butler led off the bottom of the ninth with a single Thursday in a tie game against the Mariners, it gave him his third career five-hit game. It was also the end of his day; the Royals pulled him in favor of Pedro Ciriaco.
The switch didn’t work out — Ciriaco was left stranded at second — but it also didn’t cost the Royals, as they went on to win on a Mike Moustakas homer in the bottom of the 13th.
Had Butler remained in, he would have had a chance to go for the first six-hit day for a Royal since Joe Randa had one in 2004. They’re have been two six-hit games in the majors this season; Jean Segura went 6-for-7 for the Brewers on May 28 and Alex Rios went 6-for-6 for the White Sox on July 9. There hadn’t been a single six-hit game in any of the previous three seasons.
For Butler, it was the 29th time this season that he’s been removed early from a game. It happened less when Jarrod Dyson — manager Ned Yost’s favorite pinch-runner — was on the DL and when he was playing more regularly in the outfield, but now that rosters have expanded, Butler will probably get resume getting pulled for pinch-runners more frequently.
Scott Kazmir won’t begin the regular season in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Manager Dave Roberts said after Kazmir’s Cactus League outing on Sunday that it “doesn’t make sense” for the ailing Kazmir to break camp in the rotation, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. The lefty will instead rehab some more and join the rotation at a later time.
Kazmir has been battling a hip issue which has caused his mechanics to suffer. He was clocked in the low 80’s 10 days ago and wasn’t much better on Sunday afternoon.
Last season with the Dodgers, Kazmir posted a 4.56 ERA with a 134/52 K/BB ratio in 136 1/3 innings, his worst numbers since returning to the majors in 2013.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that Robert Gsellman has won the No. 4 spot in the Mets’ starting rotation. He adds that the Mets are likely to play things cautiously with lefty Steven Matz. The fifth and final rotation spot will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo.
Gsellman, 23, has had a great spring. The right-hander has allowed three earned runs on 15 hits and four walks with nine strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings. That is on the heels of seven solid starts at the end of the 2016 season during which he yielded 12 earned runs on 40 hits and 12 walks with 40 strikeouts in 41 innings.
Matz, 25, is dealing with irritation in his left elbow. He had surgery in October to remove a bone spur and was a Tommy John patient several years ago. It sounds like the Mets are leaning towards having him start the season on the disabled list.
Wheeler, 26, isn’t having a great spring. He’s surrendered seven runs in 7 1/3 innings. Lugo has given up three earned runs in seven spring innings and also looked solid in the World Baseball Classic although he took the loss in the final against the United States.