Ned Yost discusses Royals’ series-ending win in extra inning against Cleveland
Ten games might not feel like a long time for some hitters, but for Royals slugger Jorge Soler to not have hit a home run in double-digit games had to seem like the earth stopped spinning on its axis.
Well, Soler’s eighth-inning home run in Sunday’s 9-8 win over the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field, his 36th homer of the season, moved him within two of tying Mike Moustakas’ single-season club record of 38 with more than a month remaining in this season.
“They’ve been pitching me well this series,” Soler said with Royals quality control/catching coach Pedro Grifol translating from Spanish to English. “I don’t know that it’s where the pitcher wanted to throw it. But I’m happy I got it.”
Soler’s blast broke a 3-3 tie and started a five-run inning during which the Royals batted around. Soler, who is now tied with Steve Balboni for the second-most home runs in club history, also became the first Royals player with 90 RBIs or more since Eric Hosmer in 2017 . Soler now has 91 RBIs this season.
During a season in which he’d set such a torrid pace for any power hitter, Soler had all of a sudden cooled down markedly until his two-run homer off Indians relief pitcher Nick Wittgren snapped his longest homerless streak of the season.
“It’s been about 10 games, I know,” Soler said. “I usually feel one coming one off the bat every four or five games.”
He’d last homered on the road in a two-homer game against the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 11. Soler admitted to having been “a little anxious lately” at the plate.
The 27-year-old native of Cuba had long since sailed past his previous season high of 12 home runs. He surpassed the 30-homer plateau, which he viewed as a highly significant benchmark for any power hitter, and he entered the day ranked second in the American League in homers behind only Los Angeles Angels star and former MVP Mike Trout.
Soler hit seven home runs during a 10-game road trip to Minnesota, Boston and Detroit earlier this month, and matched Mike Sweeney’s club record for homers hit on a road trip.
Since then, he’d gone cold, including 1 for 18 entering Sunday. Royals manager Ned Yost flip-flopped him and Alex Gordon in the lineup in order to try to prevent opposing pitchers from pitching around Soler.
“We’ve all been in a slump here lately. All of us,” Yost said. “We’ve just have not had a whole lot of luck. We can’t find holes. We haven’t produced any offense. He got a hold of that one. I think he got every bit of that one.”