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.
If it were up to him, Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson would finish the remainder of his career in Toronto. In fact, he’d be “ticked pink” if the club decided to sign him to a long-term deal. Whether the Blue Jays share that sentiment is still unclear, as Donaldson said Saturday that the team has yet to engage his agent in extension talks.
“I’ve said that I wanted to be here,” he told MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm. “That’s pretty much all I can say. I’m not the one who makes the decisions, nor would I try to put them in the position to do that. Like I said, I believe the situation will become more fluid when the time is right.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean an extension is out of the question. The Blue Jays reached an unprecedented one-year, $23 million agreement with the three-time All-Star in arbitration, and have been reticent to field trade offers despite continued interest from the Cardinals this winter.
Donaldson, 32, is poised to enter his eighth season in the majors and fourth with the Blue Jays. In 2017, he batted .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs and a .944 OPS in 496 plate appearances, ranking sixth among all major league third baseman with 5.0 fWAR. He’s scheduled to enter free agency following the 2018 season.