Royals find silver lining in loss to Tribe
Gordon goes 4-for-4, scores twice; Gathright 3-for-4, two RBIs
CLEVELAND -- In the midst of the rubble of an 8-3 defeat on Thursday, Royals manager Buddy Bell saw some blocks to build on.
Alex Gordon, the celebrated but slumping rookie, put together a 4-for-4 afternoon in the sun at Jacobs Field. Joey Gathright, summoned from Triple-A Omaha to provide some spark, had another productive game with three hits and two RBIs.
Gordon had been in a 1-for-24 funk before getting a double, a triple and two singles against the first-place Cleveland Indians.
"Through the Indians series at home and maybe the first game or two against Seattle, he was swinging the bat good -- hitting it hard but without any results," Bell said.
"Then, I think he started swinging too hard, and that got him into some bad swings in Tampa Bay. So it's nice to see him get rewarded for some hard work."
Gordon only needed a home run for the cycle after his single, double and triple off Indians starter Fausto Carmona. In the ninth, against reliever Tom Mastny, he lined another single to right for a perfect day.
Gathright, in his second game since being recalled, had his second stolen base and has five hits in seven at-bats.
"I see some signs ... ," Bell said. "We've just got to get some more guys going offensively."
Except for Gordon and Gathright, that was difficult against Carmona, a 23-year-old right-hander who has gone from a 1-10 struggler in 2006 to a 7-1 sparkler this year.
Carmona worked seven innings, and the only run against him came when Gordon tripled to deep center to start the seventh and scored on John Buck's single.
Still, Bell noted that David DeJesus, though hitless, was getting better swings on Thursday. Mark Teahen has a modest four-game streak working. Emil Brown had seven hits and four RBIs on the trip.
When Royals starter Odalis Perez departed in the sixth inning after Jason Michaels' home run, the Indians were up 3-0.
"It wasn't my best day, but when I came out in the sixth, the game was on the line," Perez said. "They scored three runs off me, but it wasn't a bad outing."
Perez dodged trouble until the fourth inning, when Michaels walked, Josh Barfield doubled him home and Franklin Gutierrez cracked a solo home run.
The Royals were assured of a losing trip, 3-4 at Tampa Bay and Cleveland, when the Indians dredged up five runs in the eighth. A ground ball that rolled right through shortstop Tony Pena Jr. helped open the gates.
"I have no clue. I just lost it, I guess," Pena said. "We should have been out of the inning."
Against reliever Zack Greinke, the Tribe's Grady Sizemore rifled a two-run double, and Casey Blake pounded a two-run homer.
So, even though Gordon led off the ninth with a single and Gathright later lined a two-run single, the Royals were facing a real uphill challenge.
Gordon, who came into the game with a .173 average, decided to be aggressive against Carmona.
"Carmona likes his fastball and throws it a lot. So I knew he was going to come after me with that, so that's what I looked for," Gordon said.
During a miserable 0-for-12 series at Tampa Bay, Gordon felt he wasn't ready at the plate and was fouling off balls and pulling off pitches.
"So Barney [Mike Barnett], our hitting coach, and I looked at that and went down to the cages and worked on that," Gordon said.
So something clicked, at last, for Gordon. And something clicked, again, for Gathright.
"I wish everybody else could have good days with us," Gathright said.
So does Buddy Bell.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.