08/06/09 1:33 AM ET
Lopez leads onslaught in French's debut
Slugger extends RBI streak; left-hander wins second game
By Jim Street / MLB.com
Jose Lopez on an RBI binge
|July 29||Blue Jays||3-for-4||1|
"You're in a situation right there where hopefully you can stop the bleeding," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "You gotta make pitches to do it. We weren't able to do that and it dominoed into the big inning."Lopez also singled in the sixth inning, driving in two runs, and again in the eighth. The 25-year-old has come a long way after going through a tough May, when he batted .214 and had to deal with the news that his sister was dying of cancer in Venezuela. She passed away in mid-June and Lopez went on the bereavement list for a week. He returned on July 25 with a new attitude and approach. "When I came back, I decided to hit in the cage every day," Lopez said. "I hit the ball the other way, every swing, and it has worked. Early in the season, they pitched me away and I kept trying to pull the ball. "Now, I think first of going the other way [to right and right-center] and pull the ball if it's inside." The results have been impressive. He was batting .248 with five three-hit games on June 17 and is batting .335 in his past 51 games and raised his batting average to a season-high .281. "It doesn't surprise me," Wakamatsu said. "What surprised me was the way he struggled early. I have seen him for a number of years and he always seemed to hit well against us, both Oakland and Texas." French appreciated the offensive support he received. Acquired from the Tigers last Friday, French surrendered nine hits and four runs over five innings, departing after 89 pitches -- 61 for strikes -- and a 6-4 lead. "It was nice to get that one out of the way," French said. "It kind of felt like my first start all over again. I felt good, but was up in the zone a few times and they made me pay for it." French surrendered two-run homers to Billy Butler in the second inning and Alex Gordon in the fourth, both of them on first pitches. "He was a little nervous to start," Wakamatsu said, "but I think the biggest thing, and most important thing, is to get him acclimated to this club." French said it has been a wild week since getting traded, but things are slowly settling down. He says the support from his teammates has been strong and his wife, who was in Detroit at the time of the trade, drove back to Colorado and will rejoin Lucas in Seattle. If they need a pet, well there's a cat at Kauffman Stadium that might be available. The game was delayed for a few minutes in the top of the fifth inning when a feline ran in from left field. "It jumped from the stands into our bullpen," Shawn Kelley said. "We thought it was going to attack [bullpen coach John Wetteland] so we had to divert it away from him. It scaled an eight-foot wall, it really did. We were just concerned with saving John. We thought he was in trouble. He was cornered." One of the bullpen guardians, right-hander Sean White, later entered the game, replacing Miguel Batista with two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth. He retired Mark Teahen to end the inning and all three batters he faced in the seventh. "The key to game for me was White," Wakamatsu said. "He got the game back under control at a point where it could have gotten out of hand."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.