Royals Recap: Luis Mendoza, Defense, Ned Yost Struggle


For the first nine games of the season, Kansas City Manager Ned Yost made few obvious or costly mistakes. This was not the case Friday night at Kaufman Stadium as the Royals (6-4) lost 8-4 to the Toronto Blue Jays (4-6). His decision to start Miguel Tejada at first base, a position he has never played before at the major league level, instead of Billy Butler, was unfathomable and very likely cost the Royals 2 runs. Combined with the fact he relieved starter Luis Mendoza with base runners on second and third, illustrates just how little Yost knows the capabilities of his players and how to manage his roster. If he was going to throw a game away anyway, he might as well have just gone ahead and given Salvador Perez the night off, too.

Apr 5, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost (3) celebrates win against the Philadelphia Phillies on Opening Day at Citizens bank Park. The Royals defeated the Phillies, 13-4. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

On the Mound

Luis Mendoza’s line looks really bad – 8 runs (7 earned), on 7 hits and 3 walks in 5.2 innings  – but with better defensive play and smarter line-up management, it should have looked much better. His defense cost him early when Tejada dove out of the way of a blistering ground ball that ended up as a double and drove in a run. It wasn’t so much that Tejada was scared of the ball but but suffered from an unfamiliarity with the position. There is no guarantee Butler would make that play either, but I would take my chances with someone who has actually played first base. Tejada actually cost the Royals another run in the third when he failed to come up with a slightly errant Mike Moustakas throw. Moose was given the error but a real first baseman would have come up with that throw. That also led to a Blue Jay run. Poor defense by Jeff Francoeur (expected) and Salvador Perez (unexpected) also cost Mendoza some damage.

Then Yost decided to relieve Mendoza in the 6th with 2 runners in scoring position with Luke Hochevar, the one reliever in the bullpen that can’t be trusted with men on base. Hochevar promptly gave up a hit to score both runs, a wild pitch, and a walk, before getting the last out. Hochevar’s line looks really good – 2.1 innings, 1 hit, 1 BB, 5 strikeouts – but his inability to pitch with runners on should have led Yost to pick anyone else.

At the Plate

This wasn’t very impressive either. The Royals only had 5 hits and they scored 3 of their runs in the first. Lorenzo Cain had the biggest hit, a single that scored 2.

This and That

Luke Hochevar’s career batting average against with runners on second and third is .389. It is .367 with runners on second and third, with 2 outs. If I can find this information within a few minutes, why doesn’t Ned Yost know it.

Royals announcer Steve Physioc mentioned on the radio (610) yesterday that Eric Hosmer is battling a sore quad.

Player of the Game

The pickings are slim here. Lorenzo Cain’s 2-RBI single was one of the very few positive moments in this game. James Shields, Miguel Tejada, Jeremy Guthrie, Eric Hosmer, Luis Mendoza, Billy Butler, Ervin Santana, Alex Gordon, Wade Davis, and Cain have each won the POG once.

The Blue Jays

Jose Reyes injured his ankle while stealing second in the 6th. It is not yet known just how serious the injury is yet but it did not look good. Best case scenario for the Jays is a month but it could be 3 months or more, depending on the severity.

Up Next

James Shields (1-1) will take the bump tonight against R.A. Dickey (0-2). Dickey was rumored to be a trade target for the Royals before they acquired Shields and Dickey went to the Blue Jays.

AL Central Notes

Detroit Tigers ( 5-5 ): Brayan Villareal (0-2) continues to struggle in the bullpen. He gave up a 12 inning walk off home run to the A’s Josh Donaldson. Villareal’s ERA is 48.60 early this season and batters are hitting .545 against him.

Cleveland Indians ( 4-5 ): Justin Masterson was masterful Friday, throwing a complete game shutout in a 1-0 win against the White Sox. The Indians won in the bottom of the 9th on a Nick Swisher single that drove in Michael Bourn. Masterson is now 3-0 on the season with a .41 ERA.

Chicago White Sox (4-6 ): Jesse Crain gave up the winning run in the bottom of the 9th as the Sox hitters could only manage 5 hits and a walk against Masterson in the 1-0 loss to the Indians.

Minnesota Twins (4-6 ): Vance Worley (o-2) got pummeled by the Mets Friday. He surrendered 9 runs (7 earned), 7 hits, and 2 walks, while only recording 3 outs. Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer each had 2 hits.