KANSAS CITY -- First baseman Matt Fields gave the hometown fans at Springdale, Ark., a lot to cheer about by winning the Home Run Derby prior to the Texas League All-Star Game hosted by the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, the Royals' Double-A affiliate.
Fields belted 24 home runs in the two rounds of the contest, beating Tulsa's Kiel Roling, 11-6, in the finals on Tuesday night.
This season for the Naturals, Fields has 18 home runs with 49 RBIs and a .238 average in 72 games.
He was one of several Naturals to play for the North in a 6-0 loss to the South in the All-Star Game. Shortstop Orlando Calixte was 1-for-2 with a single and Santiago Garrido pitched a scoreless second inning with just nine pitches. Outfielder Roman Hernandez, third baseman Rey Navarro and catcher Mitch Canham also played.
Royals looking to provide opportunity knocks
KANSAS CITY -- Over a nine-game stretch going into Wednesday night's game against the Braves, the Royals' 3-6 record was reflected by a corresponding inability to hit with runners in scoring position.
Their average with RISP in that period was .182 (14-for-77). A low point came in Tuesday night's game, when in the ninth inning with the tying run at third and none out, the Royals couldn't put the ball in play. Elliot Johnson and Jarrod Dyson both struck out. The opportunity fizzled and the Braves won, 4-3.
"We're not looking for three-run homers. We're looking to put the ball in play and make something happen," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "They [the Braves] were conceding the run, absolutely."
The inability to make contact haunted Yost on Wednesday. He found no fault with Alcides Escobar swinging at Craig Kimbrel's first pitch with the bases loaded and flying out to end the game.
"He gives you a pitch to hit and you try to put a good swing on it. That didn't bother me," Yost said.
The Royals know what a difference connecting in key situations can be. During their 9-1 spurt from June 5-14, their RISP average was .356 (31-for-87).
As a team, the Royals through Tuesday were hitting a solid .277 with RISP, ranking fifth in the American League. Tampa Bay and Detroit were on top, each at .288. But the Royals ranked 13th out of 15 teams in runs scored.
"So, I can't figure out why we're not scoring more runs," Yost said. "We're going to be better in the second half. I really think that these kids are going to be better.
"We've lost 16 one-run games and all of them were like [Tuesday] night. We've had an opportunity to win every single one of 'em. We have to find a way to get over that hump."
The Royals have won 11 one-run decisions.
Royals get positive report on Duffy's victory
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals got a good report to go with the good statistics on left-hander Danny Duffy's victorious outing for Triple-A Omaha on Tuesday.
Duffy went five shutout innings of a 2-0 win at Oklahoma City in the first game of a doubleheader. He gave up just two hits and one walk with four strikeouts.
"He threw the ball really well," manager Ned Yost said. "A really good curveball, good fastball. Spotted it early. The last inning, he got a little erratic with it but ... "
Duffy's recovery from his Tommy John surgery over a year ago is continuing to go well. This was the best of his seven rehab starts for Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Omaha. His totals in the seven games: 25 2/3 innings, 6.31 ERA, 18 runs, 30 hits, 13 walks and 29 strikeouts.
Right-hander Felipe Paulino was fine on Wednesday after throwing a bullpen session on Tuesday and is expected to resume his Minor League rehab assignment soon. He's also coming back from Tommy John surgery, but was recalled because of a minor back ailment.
Royals discuss direction in team meeting
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals held a team meeting prior to batting practice on Wednesday, but manager Ned Yost wasn't giving out many details.
"We're doing a lot of things good," Yost said. "There were just some things we wanted to talk about. No big earth-shattering, no screaming, no raising any voices. We're about at the halfway point and it was more discussing where we've been and where we're going, more than anything else."
The session lasted about 15 minutes.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.