MINNEAPOLIS (TNS) — The decision that allowed the Royals to snap a 10-game losing streak here on Tuesday was made long before Twins starter Aaron Slegers threw the first pitch of the game.
Royals manager Ned Yost went over his roster and wondered if it was time to give Adalberto Mondesi a day off or if outfielder Jorge Bonifacio needed it more. He decided on Bonifacio and gave Mondesi his fourth start at shortstop in five days.
And on a night the Royals needed oomph to avoid a season-high 11 consecutive losses, Mondesi came through twice to guide the Royals to a 9-4 victory over the Twins.
He worked a 2-2 count against Slegers in the second inning and made him pay for a high fastball, yanking the 90-mph pitch into the right-field concourse for a go-ahead, three-run homer. And after drawing a walk in his second at-bat, Mondesi smacked the first pitch he saw from Twins reliever Matt Magill up the middle for a two-out RBI hit in the sixth inning.
Other than watching Rule 5 acquisition Brad Keller develop into a major-league starter who's capable of shutting down the playoff-hopeful Mariners — he did that, if you recall that eight-inning complete game in which he allowed one run on six hits and no walks — Mondesi's progress is the most intriguing storyline to watch as the summer drags on and the Royals continue their pace to a franchise-record 115 losses.
Because so much has been made of his potential, it's easy to forget Mondesi is only 22 years old. He won't turn 23 for another 17 days.
His strides have been incremental because he's still learning. He's spent plenty of time at the computer, studying pitchers and learning from quality control coach Pedro Grifol and others on the staff. He's pored over scouting reports.
He's struck out 18 times in 61 at-bats and is only batting .230 in 18 games.
But as long as Yost sticks with him in the lineup and gives him as many consecutive playing days as he can, Mondesi should eventually figure things out. The Royals want Mondesi to play 28 days in a month's span before the end of the season — and at this rate, he should get there.