Butler's bat boosts Royals to win
Offense batters Mariners' pitching to take series victory
KANSAS CITY -- Billy Butler doesn't seem ready to say bye-bye.
The assumption is that Butler will return to Triple-A Omaha once designated hitter Mike Sweeney comes back from an injury. Is that assuming too much, too soon?
Butler made the Royals' brass and 28,140 fans take notice as he drove in six runs and banged three hits, including a home run in the Royals' 17-3 drubbing of the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Heck, Butler had his six-pack of RBIs by the second inning.
Butler pounded a three-run homer on left-hander Ryan Feierabend's first pitch to him in the first inning.
Feierabend is an old foe from the Minor Leagues, so Butler had an idea what to expect.
"Every time I go up there, I look for a fastball and I adjust from it. So if it's there, I'm going to swing at it and hopefully I hit it," Butler said.
This one he hit 421 feet to a splashdown in the left-field fountains.
Jason LaRue followed Butler's home run with one of his own. That gave the Royals back-to-back homers for the first time this season.
The Royals thundered to six runs in the inning. They also got four more in the second, partially because Butler struck again.
"He crushed the home run, but for me the biggest hit of the night was the double that he had with the bases loaded," manager Buddy Bell said. "That was a beautiful-looking swing that he put on it. If there was any doubt in the game at that point, he pretty much sealed it for us."
Butler whistled his double into the right-center-field gap.
"The ball was out away, on the outside corner, and I was just trying to get it through the infield and make something happen for the team," he said. "I got it in the gap, and luckily, it scored all three of them."
Yep, Feierabend threw another fastball away. Doesn't he learn?
"He was just in a situation where he had to challenge me. He couldn't mess around, he had to come right at me," Butler said.
With that, Feierabend was excused by new Mariners manager John McLaren.
LaRue was also a big contributor, going 3-for-3 and lacking only a triple for the cycle when he was plunked by a pitch in the seventh. Cycle? What cycle?
"It's not something I think about during the game -- what a hit was," LaRue said. "It's not something I even think about or keep track of. I didn't even notice it."
The beneficiary of this onslaught was left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, who worked seven innings for the victory, his second in a row. His last win was a bit different -- 1-0 at Anaheim.
De La Rosa (6-9) gave up three runs on eight hits.
"Jorgie had a little command issue there in the third or fourth so it was nice to see us continue to add on with a little bit more separation," Bell said.
What De La Rosa did was give the Royals bullpen a breather. Only Neal Musser was used, mopping up the last two innings.
"He gave us exactly what we needed," Bell said.
So, Bell was asked, will Butler's big night and his 10-for-29 performance in his last seven starts at DH make a difference in his fate?
"Not really," Bell said. "First of all, I think Billy knows and understands the situation. A lot of times, it's just numbers and you can't carry everybody you want to carry. We expect Billy, though, to help us every time he's in the lineup, regardless of where he is today or where he is tomorrow."
Indeed, Butler does seem to understand that his Omaha days aren't over.
"That's the card that I've been dealt," he said. "I can't do anything about that. I can only control what I do on the field. If that's the case, that's the case. I do what I can when I get my opportunities and I feel like I've done a good job."
Sweeney is still limping from a sore right knee and a return before the All-Star break appears more and more doubtful.
"I wish the best for Sweeney. When he gets better, I can't wait for him to get back in there because he's one of the best hitters I've ever seen, if not the best," Butler said.
"I haven't seen too many guys hit because I'm only 21, but I've had the luxury of being around that guy for a while and he's probably the best guy in baseball."
On Tuesday night, Butler wasn't bad himself.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.