SEATTLE -- Last season, the Royals' pitching staff led the American League in bases on balls and it's happening again. Prior to Sunday's game, Kansas City was first in the AL, and tied with the Padres for the Major League lead, with 358 walks.
What's a pitching coach to do?
"It's getting guys to trust their stuff in the zone and getting good counts," pitching coach Dave Eiland said. "That's the thing -- guys have to pitch to contact, and it's just getting them to believe and trust it and stay on the attack, rather than nibble, nibble, nibble."
As Eiland says, there's "no magic answer," it comes down to the old adage of "trust your stuff" on the mound.
"Pitch to contact. Once you start pitching away from contact and trying to miss bats, you fall into bad counts and walks are going to happen," Eiland said.
There are certain mechanical changes that can be done to help some pitchers. A prime example is left-hander Tim Collins, who underwent some delivery changes with Eiland in Spring Training and has cut down on walks and upped his strikeouts. But for most it's a matter of being confident and being aggressive and on the attack, not being overly cautious.
"All these guys can throw strikes or they never would've gotten to this level," Eiland said. "Now it's believing in it and trusting it at this level."
Royals take cautious approach with Moustakas
SEATTLE -- So what's the story on Mike Moustakas?
"The story's good, the knee feels good," the Royals' third baseman said before Sunday's game against the Mariners. "I've just got the day off today and we'll see how it is [Monday]."
Moustakas was pulled from Saturday's game with a right knee sprain after sprawling into foul territory for a hot grounder, twisting and throwing from his knees. That happened in the first inning and he left an inning later.
Results of an MRI after the game were encouraging.
"I couldn't tell you everything they were saying, but they told me it was good," Moustakas said. "I didn't really understand half the language they were saying, all the medical terms and stuff, but they said it came back good."
Manager Ned Yost, who demands simplified terminology from his medical staff, got down to the basics.
"All indications are it's a bit of a bone bruise," Yost said. "He's a tough kid so we'll see how he feels getting through today and [Monday]."
Meaning that Moustakas, after Monday's off-day, might or might not be in the lineup on Tuesday night when the Royals open a home series against the Indians.
Head athletic trainer Nick Kenney made certain that Moustakas underwent an MRI screening because of the Spring Training injuries to catchers Salvador Perez and Manny Pina, when merely reaching for pitches resulted in torn cartilage and surgery.
"Nick was real cautious to make sure it wasn't something like that," Moustakas said. "That's why they ended up doing it, getting the MRI, because of what happened with those two guys."
Yuniesky Betancourt started at third base on Sunday.
Royals sit slumping Francoeur for M's finale
SEATTLE -- Slumping right fielder Jeff Francoeur was out of the Royals' starting lineup against the Mariners on Sunday.
"He's struggling," manager Ned Yost said. "We may give him more than a day. We're going to try to find a way to get him back being productive."
Francoeur is just 2-for-22 (.091) in the first six games of this seven-game trip. Over a longer period, since June 20, he's just 22-for-130 (.169) with four home runs and 11 RBIs in 33 games. His average has dropped from .274 to .238.
"He looks lost right now," Yost said.
So the Royals lined up with Lorenzo Cain in right, Jarrod Dyson in center and Alex Gordon in left for the series finale against the Mariners. Gordon is the only Royal to have played in all 101 games this season. He started all but one.
After a tough road trip, manager Ned Yost feels that Monday's open date comes at a good time. "We need a day off, everybody needs a day off," he said.
Triple-A Omaha outfielder Wil Myers became the first Minor Leaguer to have 30 home runs when he connected on Saturday. It was his 17th for Omaha after banging 13 for Northwest Arkansas.
Alcides Escobar's bunt single in Saturday's 4-3 loss to the Mariners was his ninth this season. That tied him for second in the Majors behind Erick Aybar's 15 for the Angels. The Phillies' Juan Pierre also has nine.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.