5/22/2013 7:33 P.M. ET
Royals reaping benefits of breaks from lineup
By Gene Duffey / Special to MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Kansas City manager Ned Yost believes in giving his players a day off here and there, partly to get more people in the games. It certainly worked well this week in Houston.
Yost sat third baseman Mike Moustakas, who was struggling at the plate, for Monday night's game. Replacement Miguel Tejada hit a three-run homer in his place and Moustakas followed up by getting a clutch hit in the eighth inning when he returned to the lineup Tuesday night that paved the way for the 7-3 win for the Royals.
"Absolutely [it helped]," Moustakas said. "This game takes its toll on you mentally and physically. When you get a day off like that, it helps you step back and put everything in perspective. You're playing Major League Baseball. You get a chance every day to go out there and live your dream.
"It's nice to have those days to mentally relax, to kick back and watch a big league game from the best seat in the house. I don't like watching, but if skipper gives me a day off, it's not a bad place to watch a game."
Yost decided to give shortstop Alcides Escobar Tuesday night off -- at least for a while.
Escobar drove in Kansas City's first run with a pinch-hit single in the seventh inning, stayed in the game defensively and drove in another with a fielder's choice in the eighth.
"It was half [of] a day off," laughed Escobar. "I love to play. But sometimes you need a day off. I like to play every day. We got a nice win [Tuesday] after four tough losses on the road. Everybody's happy right now."
Tuesday was the first game that Escobar didn't start this season.
"I can play every day," he said. "I played more than 150 games [the last two years]."
"Everybody needs a day off now and then," Yost said. "There's very few players, and Escobar is one, who can play 162 games. You've got bench guys, too, who you need to get in the game. It's more about getting them in the game then somebody needing a day off."
Left fielder Alex Gordon, who is hitting .352, is the only Royal to start every game this season.
Does Yost plan on resting Gordon soon?
"He's swinging the bat too good to get a day off," he said.
Moustakas reunites with Astros' Dominguez
HOUSTON -- Kansas City's Mike Moustakas and Houston's Matt Dominguez went out to a pizza place for dinner after Tuesday night's game at Minute Maid Park.
It was a good night for the third basemen. Moustakas broke an 0-for-18 skid with a clutch single in the eighth inning that helped the Royals rally for a 7-3 win. Dominguez went 2-for-4.
Surprisingly, they talked about everything but baseball. That can happen when you've been friends with someone since you were kids.
"You play 162 games, you're at the field every day," Moustakas said. "When you get away from it, it's always nice to talk about other things."
So what did they talk about?
"Matt's a big fantasy football and basketball guy," Moustakas said. "I always give him a little trash because I'm not very good at it. He actually kicked me out of his league four years ago because I didn't set my roster. I haven't been invited back. They take it pretty serious."
They grew up 10 minutes from each other in Northridge, Calif., just north of Los Angeles.
"We played Mid Valley Pony League together when I was like 7 or 8," Moustakas said. "We played on a couple of travel teams together and then against each other."
Moustakas originally planned to play quarterback in high school, but he ended up at Chatsworth, a traditional baseball power where Dominguez's two older brothers had gone to school.
They realized they might be better than just pretty good players when they started together on the varsity as freshmen. Moustakas played shortstop then, Dominguez already locked in at third.
"He's the best third baseman I've even seen," Moustakas said of Dominguez. "He makes everything look so smooth, so easy, so effortless. I played more up the middle and let him take everything to the left because he was so good. The only downside to his game in high school was he couldn't catch a fly ball. I had to go catch all the popups.
"We hung out together all the time off the field. We know where we come from. He's one of my best friends."
"I knew he was going to be a Major League player since he was a freshman," Moustakas said of Dominguez. "When his stick comes around, he's going to be awesome."
Chatsworth won regional championships their freshman and senior years. They played one game a year at Dodger Stadium. Moustakas hit 54 home runs in his high school career, a state record.
Dominguez was named national Freshman of the Year, setting a school record for RBIs.
They weren't typical teenagers, voicing their dreams of playing in the Major Leagues some day.
"Off the field, we hardly talked about baseball," Moustakas said. "We kind of hung out and talked about the things that 16-, 17-year-old kids talk about."
The two played for Team USA in Cuba before their senior years.
"It was awesome," Moustakas said.
Kansas City picked Moustakas with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 Draft. The Florida Marlins selected Dominguez with the No. 12 overall pick the same year.
"If you knew Matt and me, we didn't think it was a big deal," Moustakas said. "We weren't throwing draft parties. I was at home with my family and a couple of buddies.
"I didn't think I would go that high. From what they were saying, I was supposed to be a mid-round pick. I had no clue the Royals were going to pick me. I sat there in shock for a couple of seconds, then started jumping around."
Moustakas continued to watch, wanting to know where Dominguez was selected.
They both made it to the Major Leagues at the age of 22. They text each other now more than talk on the phone.
"Anytime I see him do something good on TV, I'll text him," Moustakas said. "I've always followed my buddies. If he did something bad, I'll make sure I send him a text just to mess with him. It's always fun to talk trash back and forth, especially at this level."
Perez gets another night off from lineup Wednesday
HOUSTON -- After suffering a leg bruise in Monday night's game, Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez took off a second day in a row Wednesday against the Houston Astros.
"The best thing to do is give him one more day," manager Ned Yost said.
Yost called it "real likely" that Perez would be back in the lineup Thursday when the Royals return home to play the Los Angeles Angels, the start of a six-game homestand.
Perez, who is hitting .308, hurt his right leg sliding into a dugout post attempting to catch a foul ball Monday.
"It's a bruise," Yost said. "Could he play today? Yeah. Would one more day benefit him? Yeah. Let's take the opportunity to [rest] him another day."
George Kottaras has proved to be more than a capable replacement for Perez. Kottaras walked twice in four plate appearances Tuesday night, forcing in the winning run in the eighth inning.
"George has been playing good," Yost said.
Gordon continues to surge at the plate
HOUSTON -- Kansas City left fielder Alex Gordon is one of the game's hottest hitters.
Gordon went 3-for-4 with a walk Tuesday night at Houston, raising his average to .352, one point behind Tampa Bay's James Loney for second in the American League heading into Wednesday night's game.
Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, last year's Triple Crown winner, still leads the league at .384.
Gordon, 29, hit .303 for Kansas City in 2011. He hit .294 last year and led the Major Leagues in doubles with 51.
"My two-strike approach is a lot better than it has been," he said. "I'm getting a lot more hits with two strikes. Not trying to do too much. Just put the ball in play. It took me a little bit of time [to learn that]. Fly balls don't work out too well."
Gordon reached base seven times in his 10 plate appearances in the first two games in Houston.
"Some series you're going to do that, some you're not," he said. "I'm just having a pretty good series."
He tied his career high with four hits Sunday at Anaheim and added three more Tuesday night at Houston.
Gordon went into Wednesday night with a nine-game hitting streak and was batting .500 (16-for-32) on the road trip. He could challenge for the AL batting championship this season.
"It's early," he said. "Sometimes you start the season out hot, sometimes you start out cold. The old cliché is 'take one day at a time,' and that's what I'm doing, not worrying about a batting title."
Players know their batting average. They can't avoid it.
"You see it every day on the board," Gordon said. "I realize getting quality at-bats is the more important thing, drawing walks. Sometimes you're going to have a bad at-bat, hit a blooper and get a hit. Sometimes you're going to hit a line drive and get out. That's part of the game."
Gene Duffey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.