KANSAS CITY -- Royals manager Ned Yost fully admitted this week that he basically has run out of glowing adjectives to describe the rapid development of shortstop Raul Mondesi.After Mondesi's performance Sunday at Kauffman Stadium, Yost again will be perhaps reaching for his thesaurus. Mondesi had three more hits, including
KANSAS CITY -- Royals manager Ned Yost fully admitted this week that he basically has run out of glowing adjectives to describe the rapid development of shortstop Raul Mondesi.
After Mondesi's performance Sunday at Kauffman Stadium, Yost again will be perhaps reaching for his thesaurus. Mondesi had three more hits, including his ninth home run, in the Royals' 9-6 loss to the Twins. The Royals took the series, three games to one.
Mondesi also stole his 25th base in just 62 games.
"He's progressing in every facet of his game, physically and mentally," Yost said.
Mondesi's resurgence this season has been remarkable. He hit .185 in 2016 and .170 last season, looking mostly overmatched at the plate.
But after a slow start this season, Mondesi has taken off. He was hitting .211 on July 9 but has turned it on, hitting .319 over the last two months. And lately he has been scorching, hitting .388 in his last 16 games with five home runs.
"I've been working on the little things, just staying short to the ball and putting the ball in play," Mondesi said.
Mondesi has raised his average to .291, and certainly a .300 season is within reach.
"I just try to help the team win," Mondesi said. "If you focus on the numbers, you try to do too much."
Meanwhile, right-hander Jakob Junis' hot streak finally came to a halt. Junis hadn't given up more than three earned runs in a start since Aug. 1, a span of seven games. But Junis was chased in the fourth inning this time after giving up eight hits and four runs.
"I couldn't find that good strike command with my fastball," Junis said. "And when I made good pitches they battled. My command wasn't the greatest. I threw some sliders that were pretty badly hung."
Junis' old bugaboo -- the long ball -- came back to bite him Sunday. Junis went through a six-game stretch of surrendering only one home run before giving up two in his previous outing. He had given up 24 home runs in his first 17 starts this season.
The Twins hit three home runs off Junis in three-plus innings, and those three came in a span of four batters -- Max Kepler, Christopher Austin and Johnny Field all went deep.
"I had been keeping the ball down and staying ahead of hitters," said Junis, who turned 26 on Sunday. "Today, I was behind hitters and not keeping the ball down. Wasn't in the zone consistently."
Added Yost, "He just didn't have it today. It's one of those days where he was grinding, grinding, grinding, but just wasn't sharp."
Royals rookie first baseman Ryan O'Hearn had three hits, tying a career high, including two doubles.
HE SAID IT
"I had [catching coach] Pedro [Grifol] ask [Mondesi], just real quietly, just ask him how he's feeling. And he told Pedro, he goes, 'Look, I've programmed myself mentally to play every day. If you guys want to give me a day off, that's your choice. I'm ready to play every day. I feel great.'" -- Yost ,on how Mondesi, who has been injury-prone much of his career, is handling regular duty now
The Royals open a three-game series in Pittsburgh on Monday at 6:05 p.m. CT with right-hander Brad Keller (8-6, 3.04 ERA) on the mound. Right-hander Joe Musgrove (6-9, 3.87) will pitch for the Pirates. Keller is coming off a win over the White Sox on Tuesday in which he gave up one run and four hits over seven innings.
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.