Saturday, September 29, 2012
While this season is ending like many others have for the Kansas City Royals, Billy Butler is having one of the best individual campaigns by a Royal player in over a decade.
Butler and the Royals conclude the road portion of their schedule Sunday against the Cleveland Indians.
Kansas City (71-87) needs to win two of its final four games to avoid a fourth straight 90-loss season. The Royals, who have lost at least 90 games in seven of the last eight years, close the season at home against AL Central-leading Detroit.
They had to fight for their latest victory -- a 7-6 win in 14 innings Saturday. Kansas City squandered a four-run lead and the Indians tied it in the ninth on Asdrubal Cabrera's two-run double.
However, Tony Abreu's two-out single in the 14th won it for the Royals, who snapped a six-game skid.
"It was weighing on me," manager Ned Yost said of the losing streak. "I don't like going through that, especially late in the season."
While the odds may not be in the Royals' favor to avoid 90 losses, Butler has made things interesting over the last few weeks. He's batting .390 (16 for 41) with nine RBIs during a 10-game hit streak.
Butler recorded his 107th RBI on Saturday -- the most by a Kansas City player since 2000, when Jermaine Dye drove in 118 and Mike Sweeney had a franchise-record 144.
Saturday's loss ended a three-game win streak for Cleveland (66-92), which has split its first two contests under interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr.
The Indians went 3 for 21 with runners in scoring position Saturday, failing to score with the bases loaded and no out in the 14th.
"Any time you have as many chances as I did to send the other team on a walk-off (win) as I did, it's certainly frustrating," said Casey Kotchman, who grounded out to end the game and hit into an inning-ending double play in the 12th that stranded a runner at third.
Cleveland will try to win a home series for the first time since late July when it hands the ball to Zach McAllister (5-8, 4.25 ERA), who is 0-5 with a 5.75 ERA in his last eight starts -- seven of which Cleveland has lost.
McAllister gave up two runs, four hits and struck out seven in six innings of a 5-4 loss to Chicago on Monday, although he didn't factor in the decision.
The right-hander was charged with five runs over six innings of a 5-2 loss to the Royals on Aug. 1 in his first appearance against them.
Struggling Luke Hochevar (8-15, 5.43) counters for Kansas City. He has lost his last two starts and is 1-6 with a 6.31 ERA in the last nine.
Hochevar gave up six runs and 12 hits -- matching a season high -- in 7 1-3 innings of a 6-2 loss to Detroit on Monday. He has an 8.23 ERA in five starts this month.
The right-hander is 2-1 with a 6.61 ERA against the Indians this year, winning the last two matchups.
Shin-Soo Choo is hitting .556 (15 for 27) with three homers and four doubles against Hochevar.