Soler's 38th matches Moose for Royals HR mark

Designated hitter nearly sets record with screaming 2B in 8th

August 31st, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- One more for the record.

Royals designated hitter clobbered his 38th home run in the first inning on Friday night against Orioles starter John Means, matching the franchise record for home runs in a season set by Mike Moustakas.

The O’s won, 14-2, in the opener of a three-game series at Kauffman Stadium.

Moustakas notched his record homer in 2017, surpassing the previous mark of 36 by Steve Balboni in 1985.

“I feel good about it,” Soler said through interpreter Pedro Grifol. “I tied the record. We lost, so that wasn’t good. But I was able to tie the all-time record here.”

Was there any relief to have actually tied the record?

“I haven’t felt any pressure to break this record,” Soler insisted. “I felt like, if I break it, I break it. If I don’t, I don’t.”

Soler ripped an 0-1 four-seamer from Means, a Gardner, Kan., native, into the left-field camera bay. Statcast projected it traveled 393 feet with an exit velocity of 107 mph.

In the eighth inning, Soler nearly broke the record. He belted a rocket toward the left-field seats, but the ball was hit too hard and with too much topspin -- it crashed into the top of the wall, perhaps a foot from a home run. Soler settled for a double.

“I hit it too much on a line,” Soler conceded.

Added manager Ned Yost, “It was really cool to see him tie [the record]. We still have a month to go. It’s going to be interesting to see what he’s going to be able to accomplish.”

Soler’s night was about all that went right in an uncharacteristically sloppy performance by the Royals. They committed two errors, botched a run-down to allow a double steal, and missed several plays that were not called errors.

Yost was not a happy man afterward.

“I hate it,” Yost said. “I hate those games like that. I hate them. But they happen. It’s not from a lack of effort. We just had a bad night. It wasn’t just one phase of our game. It was all the phases of our game. ... We couldn’t afford to boot the ball around and throw the ball around, but we did. It was one of those nights where it happened.”

Royals starter Eric Skoglund labored from the start. He required 96 pitches to navigate through four innings, giving up nine hits and six runs.

“I was just missing middle and up,” Skoglund said. “And I was getting behind in the count. And these guys are going to take advantage of that. It’s very disappointing that it turned out this way.”

Matters got so bad that left fielder Alex Gordon pitched for the second time this week. He gave up two runs in the ninth. Gordon also pitched in Monday’s 19-4 loss to the A’s.

“I tried to give our fans a little something to cheer for by pitching Gordo,” Yost said. “I didn’t have any pitching left. I’ll be strapped tomorrow, too.”