Butler drives in 4 runs in Royals’ victory
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—Billy Butler is enjoying his torrid stretch at the plate, even if he isn’t sure why he’s in such a groove offensively.
Butler, who was sent back to the minors for a month on May 29, is hitting .341 with four homers and 14 RBIs in nine games since the All-Star break.
“When you’re going good, you’re going to produce runs,” Butler said. “I don’t feel like I’m doing anything different, but obviously I’m swinging it better. Maybe, I’m getting more comfortable. I’m not worried about anything.
“Maybe I made some adjustments, but maybe it’s just relaxing and swinging at good pitches. That’s the key to hitting if you can swing at the right pitches.”
Butler hit an RBI double in the fourth and a three-run drive off the left-field foul pole in the seventh on a full-count pitch from Al Reyes.
“It is the first time I’ve seen the guy, so I didn’t feel comfortable going up there and swinging at the first pitch,” Butler said of facing Reyes. “After a while, I saw a lot of pitches off him and saw his timing. I just got a pitch to drive. I feel like I’m a better later count hitter. The more pitches I see, the better timing I get. At that point in the at-bat, I saw every pitch he had.”
The Rays walked David DeJesus intentionally to pitch to Butler.
“You’ve got to earn respect and maybe I did a little bit,” Butler said. “I’m a young player. They’d rather pitch to me than Dave. He’s a lefty and he’s having a good year.”
Davies (4-2) gave up one run and six hits in five-plus innings, getting his first win since June 17 at St. Louis.
Carl Crawford singled in B.J. Upton in the sixth, and Ron Mahay replaced Davies with no outs and runners on second and third. The left-hander struck out Carlos Pena, retired Willy Aybar on an infield popup and got pinch-hitter Jonny Gomes to fly out to left to end the inning.
“I already told Ron wherever he wants to go I’ll buy him food,” Davies said. “He did an incredible job of getting out of that jam. That’s not an easy part of the lineup to go through especially with runners on second and third and nobody out and a two-run game.”
Mahay has allowed just two earned runs in 24 2-3 innings over his past 20 outings.
“I lucked out against a tough team like that, a first-place club, and tough hitters to face,” Mahay said. “I was fortunate enough to get a strikeout and a couple of flyballs.”
Pena hit .419 with four home runs against the Royals this year, but couldn’t come up with a big hit in the sixth.
“We’re not scoring runs when the rally is apparent,” Pena said. “A perfect example was against Mahay. We were looking for the momentum to go our way. Mahay came in and twisted it around.”
Davies (4-2) was 0-2 in his previous six starts after going 3-0 in his first four outings of the year.
Mike Aviles homered in the first and scored on DeJesus’ two-out double in the fifth to give the Royals a 3-0 lead.
Andy Sonnanstine (10-6) allowed five runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings for AL East-leading Tampa Bay, which began the day with a two-game lead over Boston. Sonnanstine has lost his last three starts, yielding 14 runs and 22 hits in 19 innings.
“Sonnanstine pitched really well,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “We had chances to score and didn’t get it done. The sixth inning was huge, runners at second and third and did not score. A strikeout is not a good out in that situation.”