Baseball / Sports

Kansas City Royals' Alex Gordon rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run to score the first of the game in seventh-inning action on Monday, June 2, 2014, at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. (Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/MCT)

Mike Moustakas comes through as Danny Duffy, Royals best Cards, 6-0

ST. LOUIS -- Mike Moustakas hit the brakes at second base and pounded his hands together. A wave of adulation and revulsion washed over him.

The majority of the fans at Busch Stadium jeered a result that sank their Cardinals. The smattering of Royals fans called out the nickname of Moustakas, who thumped a two-run, seventh-inning double in a 6-0 victory on Monday.

The noise melded into one, the loudest reaction in an otherwise brisk, tidy affair. Moustakas recorded his first hit since returning from the minor leagues. He followed a solo home run for Alex Gordon as the Royals tagged St. Louis starter Shelby Miller for a three-run inning.

Danny Duffy, 3-5, rebounded from his last, sluggish outing with six sharp innings. He held the Cardinals scoreless, struck out five and allowed only two men on base.

In the eighth, the Royals notched three more runs off the combination of Miller, veteran southpaw Randy Choate and former closer Jason Motte. In victory, the team reminded of its potential when their most pressing flaw, an inconsistent offense, does not hound them.

On Thursday, the team reassigned Pedro Grifol and installed Dale Sveum as their new hitting coach. The maneuvers had yet to alter the team's reality: They still entered Monday's game ranked last in the American League in on-base plus slugging percentage, runs and home runs. Gordon's blast was the team's 25th this season. Orioles slugger Nelson Cruz has hit 20.

Much of the offensive blame lands on the shoulders of Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer. Together they have contributed two home runs. Hosmer entered Monday batting .177 in his previous games. Butler hit .260 during that span, but with only three extra-base hits.

Playing in a National League park, manager Ned Yost has a chance to start Butler at first base. He does not intend to do so, citing Hosmer's Gold Glove defense.

"Hoz is swinging the way Billy is swinging," Yost said. "So I'm not going to lose the defense for the same amount of offense."

An infusion of offense may have to come from outside the organization. When the Royals listened to trade proposals involving Butler this winter, they pondered first baseman Kendrys Morales as a replacement, according to people familiar with the situation.

The team elected to stick with Butler. Two months into 2014, he is one of the worst hitters in the majors, with a .609 on-base plus slugging percentage ranking 166th among the 175 hitters qualified for the batting title before Monday's games.

And Morales is still available. He is expected to sign shortly after the draft on Thursday, when interested teams will no longer have to give up a pick as compensation. With the Royals offense stagnant, CBS Sports floated the possibility of the Royals' pursuing Morales.

The Royals have yet to engage in serious dialogue with Morales' representative, Scott Boras. And they may not do so. General manager Dayton Moore has already referred to the team's payroll, above $90 million for the first time in franchise history, as a "gamble." To sign Morales would likely require the team to shed salary, and dump what remains of Butler's $8 million contract elsewhere.

Considering his slugging performance, the chances of dealing Butler appear remote. Moore declined to speculate on his team's intention, and reiterated his faith in the improvement of his current roster. Still, he declined to close the door on Morales. "We will continue to look for ways to improve our team," Moore said.

Morales appears a farfetched answer. On Monday night, Moore's faith in his own was rewarded.

(c)2014 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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