08/19/12 1:57 PM ET
Royals relievers mowing down the opposition
By Vinnie Duber / MLB.com
Kansas City's relief corps has been the team's biggest strength for much of the season, and it has the numbers to prove it, particularly when it comes to punchouts.
The Royals led all American League bullpens with 412 strikeouts entering play Sunday, 42 more than the next closest team, Toronto. Colorado, with 420, is the only Major League team with more.
"The word's out on our 'pen," manager Ned Yost said. "You talk to any team about our team, and they don't want our bullpen involved in it. And they know that if our bullpen gets involved that it's going to be real difficult for them to do any damage. The word's definitely out. I wouldn't know if it's an intimidation, but it's an admiration for what they can do."
Now, the Royals 'pen has had plenty of opportunities to rack up the big numbers. Coming into Sunday, its 427 2/3 innings pitched led the AL and ranked second in the bigs. But even lately, with an improvement in starting pitching performances, the KC relievers have kept sending opposing hitters back to the bench.
Royals starters have lasted at least six innings in each of the last five games, yet the bullpen has still combined for 22 strikeouts.
Tim Collins set a franchise record earlier in the homestand for the most strikeouts in a single season by a left-handed reliever. Of the last eight outs he's recorded, all have come via the strikeout. Entering play Sunday, Collins, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera all ranked in the top 17 in baseball in relief strikeouts.
"I think we've got a lot of guys with a lot of good stuff," reliever Aaron Crow said. "Tim, Kelvin and Greg, especially, they seem always to get a lot of strikeouts. I think it's a testament to the scouting reports that we have, sticking to it, going out there and pounding the strike zone with good stuff."
Escobar's feat overlooked in night of milestones
KANSAS CITY -- It might have been lost in the shuffle of a nine-run night for the Royals' offense, but shortstop Alcides Escobar accomplished quite a rare feat on Saturday against the White Sox.
Escobar went 4-for-5 with a quartet of infield singles. The last time a Major Leaguer had four infield hits in one game was Aug. 20, 2003, when Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar, playing for the White Sox, did it against the Angels.
"That's nice. I didn't even know that until I saw it after the game on TV. The last guy to get four infield hits in one game, that's Robbie Alomar in 2003. Now it's me," Escobar said with a smile. "That's unbelievable. Wow."
Escobar's accomplishment was kind of an odd one, but it wasn't even the most unique feat of the night. Adam Dunn's two-run home run in the eighth inning was the 400th of his career, making him and Paul Konerko the first set of teammates to hit career home run No. 400 in the same season.
Also, to add to the night of milestones at Kauffman Stadium, Billy Butler collected his 900th career hit, becoming the 10th player to pick up that many hits in a Royals' uniform.
Billy Butler, who tallied three RBIs in Saturday's game against the White Sox, has driven in 13 runs in his last 12 games.
While the White Sox committed four errors Saturday, the Royals' defense continued to be spotless, as the team extended its errorless streak to nine games.
Sunday marked Ned Yost's 58th birthday. The manager entered play Sunday looking to snap a four-game losing streak on his birthday, dating back to 2007 with Milwaukee. Yost's overall managerial record on Aug. 19 is 2-6.
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.