Kang, Ishikawa make presence felt for Bucs

Kang, Ishikawa make presence felt for Bucs

KANSAS CITY -- The Pittsburgh replacements -- not to be confused with the alternative rock band from Minneapolis -- put on a pretty good show Monday night.

Jung Ho Kang, on his first night as the shortstop replacement for Jordy Mercer, started rallies. Travis Ishikawa, replacing for one night at least Pedro Alvarez at first base, finished them. The net result was a 10-7 victory over the Royals, and a typical Pirates Interleague beating.

"I've felt good for the last couple of days, have had some decent at-bats," said Ishikawa, who nonetheless entered with an .077 batting average (1-for-13) before delivering two doubles sandwiched around a homer. "I've had a few hits taken away, but that's the way baseball is. You can hit a ball hard and not get rewarded for it."

Ishikawa's two-run homer

Ishikawa collected on those chits with a two-run double in the second and a two-run homer in the fifth, both to left, his opposite field.

Setting up both of those rallies was Kang, with a single and a double. Kang has primarily played third the last five weeks, regularly in the aftermath of Josh Harrison's July 5 thumb injury. Although the start at short was his first since June 13, he has hit .325 in his last 10 starts at his natural position.

"He handled himself real well, and is re-acclimating himself to short," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He had good looks, good at-bats all night."

Kang scores on error

All of the Pirates did, in a 17-hit attack that gave them 64 hits in their last four Interleague games, all on the road. The Bucs also won for the 10th time in their last 11 games against American League teams, outscoring them in the process, 60-30.

Road Interleague games mean a DH, and Alvarez did a good job in that role, with a couple of hits and RBIs. Taking over at first, Ishikawa was even more productive.

"What a real shot in the arm for us," Hurdle said. "He had a big night. He showed a real good swing to left field, to hit those two that hard to dead-left."

Ishikawa's two-run double

Ishikawa was one of the few Pirates players who had previously played in Kauffman Stadium, but whereas he had played left field during the 2014 World Series here with the Giants, Monday night he was at first. And he had also faced Royals starter Yordano Ventura. In this case, two out of three was good.

"Having faced Ventura before might have helped, and being at my primary position was a little more comforting, for sure," said Ishikawa, who is not known as an opposite-field hitter and felt more like himself when his eighth-inning double went up the right-center alley. "Hitting balls to all parts of the field is pretty good."

Asked about the key to hitting balls to the opposite field as he had twice, Ishikawa couldn't come up with one until he shrugged and, yes, said, "Just trying to see the ball, hit the ball."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.