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Yost Trusts the Young Guys

Well, the kid doesn’t seem to feel the pressure of Yankee Stadium, does he? Eric Hosmer hit his first big league home run last night, and it was an absolute no doubter of a homer that Nick Swisher just turned to watch. As Hosmer rounded the bases, Fox Sports Kansas City was able to get a great shot of Hosmer’s parents in attendance and his mom visibly moved. It was a pretty cool moment. Even though Hosmer only went 1-4 last night, I’d say that his first night in the number three spot in the lineup can be classified as nothing less than a success. He, of course, drove in the game winning run in the tenth inning sealing a victory for Joakim Soria and leading to Louis Coleman picking up his first career save. Hosmer also walked in the sixth inning, again displaying an impressive batting eye that has led to five walks (four unintentional) in five big league games.

The big story, of course, is that Hosmer was hitting third in just his fifth big league game, which sent the Twitterverse (is it Twitterverse or Twittersphere?) into a tizzy about how Yost didn’t need to be throwing him into the fire so quickly. Rany pointed out that Yost hit Ryan Braun third in his third big league game, and that seemed to work out okay. Before I get to the main point of this, I want to make sure that I say that I was fine with the move hitting Hosmer third. I like the idea of easing someone into the lineup. It’s even something that I’ve talked about a few times in this very blog. Sometimes, though, with a hitter, you just know that they’re not going to be thrown off by anything. After four games of watching Eric Hosmer at bat and in the field, you just sort of knew that he wasn’t the type who would struggle because of where he was hitting in the lineup.

The point, though, that I love about Ned Yost is that he trusts his young players, which is a trait we haven’t seen much of in Kansas City over the years. That’s a little odd, too, because the Royals have been in a perpetual youth movement since about 1995. Now, some of the blame has to rest on the general manager for signing the veteran toys for the manager to play with, but the days of playing someone like Doug Mientkiewicz over Ryan Shealy (insert not fair to Dougie joke here) are over with a guy like Ned Yost. He understands the value that young players provide to the Royals organization. I think he gets that the young players are the ticket to him becoming the great manager that he must aspire to.

I don’t know what Yost is going to do tonight with Hosmer. He has a .409 OBP through five games to go with a .500 slugging percentage. Half his hits have gone for extra bases. Of course, half his hits is two, but that is just six less than he had in Omaha. I assume that Gordon will slide back into the third spot tonight where he’s been all season, but with the way he’s been swinging the bat over the past couple of weeks, he has to be on notice that he might be dropped in the order. I like that Yost is willing to shake things up, but not to the point that he’s doing it every night. That’s the only reason that I think Hosmer might be back hitting third. I wouldn’t put any money on it, but it’ll be interesting to see when the lineups come out later today.

I’m not making a comparison to George Brett in any way because I think they’re very different hitters, but it was hard to watch that magnificent blast that Hosmer hit last night and not think about memories of George in Yankee Stadium. Even the way Swisher just turned and watched made you think of old Royals-Yankees matchups where Brett would blast one out to right and Reggie Jackson would just turn and watch it sail out of the yard. I half expected Joe Girardi to make mention of the pine tar on Hosmer’s bat just to complete the visual. Okay, I got that out of my system. It’s the last time I will mention Hosmer’s name with George Brett. Fine, I can’t promise that, but I can promise to be vigilant with my usage of the two together.

Onto the team in general, I feel pretty good about what happened last night because they were struggling like none other to get that big hit all game and even going back to Tuesday’s game. It took until the eighth inning, but they finally came through in the clutch with a big hit by Wilson Betemit. Then it turned into a game where if the Royals needed a hit, they got it. Francouer doubled in the tenth on the hit that we wish would have won the game only to see Soria blow his second save. Then in the 11th inning, Hosmer did everything he could to hit a flyball to get the runner home. Chris Getz came across the plate to score what ended up as the winning run. This can’t be quantified, but that hit by Wilson Betemit may have been exactly what the Royals needed to get out of their mini funk as they scored in three of four innings including that eighth inning after being essentially shut down for all of four games and most of a fifth.

I’m still not entirely convinced this team is for real. I think they have the offense at times to overcome their shaky pitching staff, but it goes into hibernation a little too much. I am also of the belief that if the Royals called Johnny Giavotella up today, he’d be their answer in the leadoff spot and they’d be a better team for it, but that might be material for another post. I thought last night might be the last night the Royals were above .500 this season, but they rallied and finally won a road game after a seven game road losing streak. If they can just hold out until the pitching is ready, they might actually be able to make a run at this division. I hate to get too up after one win, but a lot of good happened that makes me think very positive thoughts about the rest of this year. Of course, they could go out and lose the next four on this road trip and be back where we expected them to be all along, but for now I’m going to enjoy the ride.

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