7/1/2014 8:11 P.M. ET
Royals games becoming must-watch events
By Alex Smith / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- According to Nielsen Media Research data, Royals games are among the Kansas City area's favorite television programs.
FOX Sports Kansas City televised 26 games in June. Those contests averaged a 6.5 household rating, up 29 percent over the May average of 5.1.
The channel was No. 1 in Kansas City on 13 of the 15 nights the Royals played in June, and the numbers kept climbing as the month went on. The nine games against the Mariners, Dodgers and Angels averaged a 7.6 household rating, with the June 22 game against Seattle earning a season-high 9.2.
This season, Royals broadcasts average 5.8, just 1 percent behind 2013's record-setting pace.
Tallies aside, Escobar playing like an All-Star
MINNEAPOLIS -- You won't find his name on any of the recent ballot updates, but shortstop Alcides Escobar, 27, has been playing like an All-Star.
Escobar improved his season average to .295 on Monday with a four-RBI performance against Minnesota and has hit .374 in his past 27 games.
"This is the best year of his career, because he's much more focused, and he's much more in tune to the game," manager Ned Yost said. "He's just having a great year."
Entering Tuesday, Escobar's average was second-best among American League shortstops (Chicago's Alexei Ramirez is hitting .298), and he was tied for second with 85 hits, tied for first with 23 doubles and fifth with 28 RBIs.
So although he is not among the top five vote-getters for his position, that could change in the next few days if he continues his hot hitting.
Numerology: Uni swaps could bring Royals luck
MINNEAPOLIS -- When the Royals signed Raul Ibanez on Monday, they might have introduced some World Series mojo into the clubhouse, but not for any obvious reasons.
Ibanez took No. 18, so first-base coach Rusty Kuntz switched to No. 15, which he wore as a member of the Tigers in 1984, when Detroit won the World Series.
"There's a little bit of attachment to that number," Kuntz said. "Hopefully, it works out over here, and we can get to the World Series again. That would be cool."
Ibanez last wore No. 18 in 2003, his final year with Kansas City. Former bench coach Chino Cadahia wore No. 15 last season, and Kuntz previously wore it for the Royals in 2010, when catcher Jason Kendall requested No. 18.
Kuntz was fine with the switch when Ibanez asked for the number on Monday.
"Whatever works for him, works for me," Kuntz said.
Alex Smith is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.