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.