Ned Yost media session: August 8, 2014

Winners of four straight and 12 of their last 15 games, the Royals begin a seven-game homestand this evening versus the San Francisco Giants, an opponent that finds itself nearly identically positioned within the pennant race on the National League side.

“This is a big homestand,” said manager Ned Yost. “The Giants are in the exact same position we are. Of course, Oakland, with the pitching they have over there, they’re going to be very tough games. But we’ve been playing some tough games and playing very well.”

Yost said that hot bats throughout the lineup have been largely responsible for the team’s recent surge.

“We played better,” he said. “Billy got hot. Cain got hot. Aoki got hot. Mixed in with Alex, mixed in with Salvador doing what he’s doing. And we won ball games. That’s what we need to continue. We’re 40 games over .500 when we score four runs or more. We had guys get hot and it creates more offense when that happens.”

According to Yost, the team continues to focus on the division race in spite of the fact that it finds itself locked in a tightly contested Wild Card race.

“I don’t get them in there every day and put on a chalkboard, ‘Do not look at the Wild Card,’” said Yost. “[But] we want to win the division. They know that. They want to win the division. The Wild Card is Plan B. We stay focused on Plan A.”

The Royals will look to veteran Jason Vargas to keep the win streak alive in just his second start back from the disabled list. Vargas dropped his previous start at Oakland after the A’s exploded for eight runs in the fifth inning. Yost said that the box score was not indicative of Vargas’ performance, however.

“I saw Vargas being Vargas,” he said. “He commanded his fastball well. He kept his change-up down. I didn’t categorize that game as him having a rough inning. If we make a couple of plays for him and he gets out of that inning, maybe only giving up one, maybe two, but it just all kind of snowballed.”

The recently acquired Erik Kratz will get the start at designated hitter this evening, a decision that Yost said came down to Kratz vs. Christian Colon.

[Kratz] has got power and it was a difference between him or Colon,” he said. “Colon has done a really nice job for us. But either way, right now, you’re going to lose a little bit of protection. If something happens to Salvy, we’re going to lose our DH. But if I use Colon, if something happened to three of my middle infielders, I’m going to lose my DH. So I went with the catcher.”

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