Butler serves up five RBIs in rout of Angels
Slumping slugger goes 5-for-5 to help take series opener
ANAHEIM -- Not long before Monday night's game, Royals manager Ned Yost was discussing Billy Butler's recent slump. He made it clear he remained a Butler believer.
"I come to the park every day expecting Billy to get four hits," Yost said.
Yost was clairvoyant, almost. He was one hit shy.
Butler, emerging from a nine-game period in which he'd batted just .114, belted five hits and had five RBIs on Monday night to lead the Royals over the Los Angeles Angels, 11-4, with an announced crowd of 32,203 at Angel Stadium. Butler had two doubles and three singles.
He became only the second Royals player to have at least five hits and five RBIs in a game. The other was Kevin Seitzer who, on Aug. 2, 1987, went 6-for-6 with seven RBIs.
His 5-for-5 outburst gave him more hits that he'd had in his previous nine frustrating games (4-for-35).
"I've got 100 at-bats or so. I've been hot and cold, I've hit some balls hard at some people. Strikeouts are a little bit up from where I normally am," Butler mused. "I don't want to guess because I'd probably be wrong but, in the last four years, I'd guess it hadn't happened. Maybe even longer than that."
Historical note: The Royals' 11 runs were the most in franchise history in game in which they had no walks and no home runs. And it was the most runs scored by an American League team without a walk or homer since 1941 -- that's 72 years ago.
On a 19-hit evening, naturally Butler wasn't the only big contributor. Salvador Perez, Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain each had three hits. Jarrod Dyson and Alex Gordon had two hits each. Cain and Perez each had two RBIs.
The biggest point was that the runaway victory came after a miserable week in which the Royals had lost six of seven games and were swept by the Yankees.
"Wipe the slate clean. I think that's the way this team is," Butler said. "As an offensive unit, when you have starting pitching the way we do, it gives you a little bit of confidence that it's going to come. And a game like this builds on that. I know I got five hits, but it was a total offensive output out there."
And the starting pitcher and winner on an 86-degree southern California evening was right-hander Luis Mendoza, who went six innings. It was the first win of the season for the No. 5 starter who's been skipped in the rotation from time to time.
"Every start I'm going to feel better and better and today I just felt great," Mendoza said. "My sinker was working good, down in the zone, and my teammates backed me up with some runs, too. For a starting pitcher, that's great, because you take the mound with more confidence."
Mendoza gave up three runs on six hits with six strikeouts. He walked none -- in fact, there wasn't a single walk in the game by either team.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia had kind words for Mendoza.
"He's got good action, good sink and for the first part of the game he was making some good pitches with it," Scioscia said. "Later on, we hit some balls hard, but he got the ball close to the zone, had a lot of movement on his fastball and we didn't square many up."
Luke Hochevar pitched the last three innings and, because of that, was awarded his first Major League save -- much to his surprise.
"I had no idea it was a save. I thought saves had to be three runs or less," Hochevar said.
Despite a big lead, he qualified for a save by finishing the game with a three-inning stint.
Butler's big night started against the Angels' right-handed starter Joe Blanton. Butler solved him for an RBI double in the first inning, a two-run single in the third and a single in the fifth that started a three-run burst.
"He's a good hitter," Blanton said. "I threw him a little bit of everything. First time he hit the double, I was trying to go in and I missed my spot. Second time I got ahead of him, had runners on second and third with two outs and he worked it to a full count. I tried to be aggressive with him on a changeup and he stayed on it, hit it up the middle."
Butler slammed a two-run double to right field -- his second ball off the wall -- in the sixth inning off left-handed reliever Michael Roth. His fifth hit came in the eighth inning against right-hander Robert Coello, a single to left.
This was the second time in his career that Butler had five hits in a game and the third time he had five or more RBIs.
"Billy's one of the best hitters I've ever seen. He can hit," Yost said. "When you've been in the game as long as I have, you see a lot of good hitters go into slumps. Billy's slumps generally are a 0-for-9 or 0-for-10. But you also know that any day he's capable of breaking out and really carrying the team for a period of time."
And Yost seemed to know just when that breakout would come.
"Every once in a while it's good to be clairvoyant," Yost said.