Lough didn't disappoint his skipper.
He hit the first pitch he saw from Astros prospect Paul Clemens in the third inning over the wall in right center field for a grand slam home run and the Chasers went on to win, 8-4.
"I thought maybe he'd come with a fastball early, which he did," Lough told me and another reporter. Lough usually hits sixth in the lineup. "Usually in that situation they'll like to sneak one by to get ahead in the count, but I was kind of sitting on it and got a good pitch and put a good swing on it."
Lough, an 11th round draft pick by the Kansas City Royals in 2007, extended his hitting streak to 17 games -- a streak that has since been broken. The 26-year-old stared off slow this season. According to Rob White of the Omaha World Herald, he was hitting just .222 before the streak began. Now he is hitting .278 with 4 HR and 22 RBIs.
"I started off slow, but I was hitting balls hard and I knew the average was going to rise," Lough said. "People can get into slumps early that put them in a hole, but I looked at it in a positive way when I was hitting balls hard. It ended up working out and I brought my average up a little bit."
"Look at [Albert] Pujols," Jirschele told us after the game. "Guys start off slow, but if you can hit, you're going to find it, you're going to figure it out and get back to where you were."
Lough, the 2009 George Brett Hitter of the Year, has watched as many prospects have moved through Omaha en route to Kansas City since he began playing for the Storm Chasers three seasons ago. But you won't find him moping around Werner Park.
Instead, you will see him running hard down the first base line, even on routine grounders. And you will hear him speaking highly of a teammate like Irving Falu who finally got the call to the big leagues (I wrote about that here) after waiting so long.
Lough remains upbeat and positive, knowing he is facing a crowded outfield situation in Kansas City with Gold Glove winner Alex Gordon in left field, Jarrod Dyson and Mitch Maier in center field and Jeff Francoeur in right field. And when Lorenzo Cain returns from the DL, he will presumably resume his starting spot in center field and the Royals will probably send Dyson back down to Omaha. That doesn't leave much room for Lough right now.
"It's about getting your shot," Lough said. "Obviously, we've got some good outfielders up there in the big leagues. You always root for the guys ahead of you because they kind of set the path for you in Spring Training. They always look after you. And I've got nothing but positive things to say about all those guys.
"Whether it's for Kansas City, or someone else, you're always playing for [all of the] teams out there. I go out and I try to win for my team. I play hard and play smart. That's kind of how I look at it."
With Cain occupying center field in 2011 and Dyson getting most of the starts in center this season before he was called up by Kansas City, Lough has logged more time at the corner outfield positions in addition to the occasional start in center, but he sees that as a positive as well.
"I can play anywhere out there," Lough said. "It's all grass. I feel comfortable in all the [outfield] positions. I like to be versatile, and whatever happens, happens."
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