Alex Gordon’s bunt single in the third inning of Tuesday night’s game tied him with Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi for the most bunt hits (nine) among current Royals.
Gordon’s bunt, perfectly placed down the third-base line, came with two outs and Mondesi on first. The Rays shifted their infield drastically to the right side, and Mondesi briefly thought about trying to advance to third base as the infield scrambled to field the bunt and cover the bases.
At the time, with the Royals trialing 4-0, it put slugger Jorge Soler at the plate with the potential for one swing of the bat to make it a one-run game.
“I can die now and be happy because Alex Gordon got down a bunt,” Royals manager Ned Yost quipped. “He’s been trying to do it for two years. Yes I like it! I’ve been wanting him to do it for two years.”
Yost pointed to the fact that the infield defense changed in Gordon’s next at-bat because of the bunt single.
“If you’ve shown that you’re going to bunt, all of a sudden now the infielders gotta come back around and protect that spot,” Yost said. “So it opens up that whole hole over there (second base side of the infield). I can’t tell you how many outs Gordon has made hitting it to the shortstop playing over all the way over there.
“They can’t do it anymore. That’s the whole idea behind the bunt. You put down a bunt — boom — it’s going to make everybody think, ‘I can’t just give him a free base here.’ So it opens up holes for you as an offensive player. So yeah, it’s imperative that he bunts.”
O’Hearn vs. Snell: First baseman Ryan O’Hearn is in the starting lineup against Tampa Bay Rays left-hander Blake Snell. Snell, the 2018 American League Cy Young Award winner, allowed just two home runs to left-handed hitters last season. Joe Gallo hit one, and the other came off the bat of O’Hearn at Tropicana Field on Aug. 21, 2018. Last season, Snell went 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA, 0.974 WHIP and 11.0 strikeouts per nine.
Dozier still sidelined: Third baseman Hunter Dozier is out of the lineup again on Wednesday, which isn’t a surprise. Yost said on Tuesday that he’d planned to give Dozier Tuesday and Wednesday leading into Thursday’s off-day. Dozier has been dealing with back stiffness/tightness and experienced back spasms during Monday night’s game.
1. Whit Merrifield, 2b
2. Adalberto Mondesi, ss
3. Alex Gordon, lf
4. Jorge Soler, dh
5. Chris Owings, 3b
6. Ryan O’Hearn, 1b
7. Cam Gallagher, c
8. Terrance Gore, rf
9. Billy Hamilton, cf
Starting pitcher: Jakob Junis (rh, 1-2, 6.26)