KANSAS CITY -- Royals manager Ned Yost was reluctant to take Billy Butler's hot bat out of the lineup in the eighth inning of Friday night's 7-5 loss to the Mariners, but he finally did.
Butler, who had three hits, was an unlikely running star in that inning. First, after drilling a shot off reliever Danny Farquhar that bounced to shortstop Brad Miller, Butler beat out a single. He moved up on Alex Gordon's single and then, on Salvador Perez's flyout to center, Butler dashed safely to third as the throw hit him in the calf and bounced away.
Lorenzo Cain was intentionally walked to load the bases in a 5-5 game. Left-hander Charlie Furbush relieved Farquhar and this is when Yost sent out Pedro Ciriaco to run for Butler. The only other choices were a limping Nori Aoki, catcher Brett Hayes or a pitcher.
"Eighth inning, I knew if the score remained tied, Billy would get up in the ninth or the 10th. I didn't want to take his bat out of there when he got on first," Yost said. "He got to second on Gordon's hit, tagged and went to third.
"Now that opened up a possibility to pinch-run Ciriaco to win the ballgame for us on a shorter sacrifice fly. ... On a short fly ball, we'd have to hold [Butler] compared to taking a chance with Ciriaco. We're trying to win it right there."
Butler had no quarrel with the decision.
"Absolutely not," he said. "That's part of the game. There are certain fly balls that I can't score on and Pedro can. We need the run there. If he doesn't pinch-run for me, it's guaranteed the guy hits a ball I can't score on that Pedro could. That's the way the game is."
As it turned out, Furbush got two harmless outs and the runners were stranded. Then, in the ninth, Butler's spot came around with two runners on base but he was no longer in the game. Aoki, hampered by groin injury, pinch-hit for Ciriaco and made an out. Gordon fanned to end the game.
"It stinks that my spot came up, but it's part of the game, you've got to take that chance," Butler said. "It just didn't work out for us tonight."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less