Aoki stays locked in with two knocks in loss

Aoki stays locked in with two knocks in loss

KANSAS CITY -- One game into a crucial showdown with the first-place Tigers, and it's clear that, so far, only one thing carried over from the Royals' previous series: Nori Aoki's scorching bat.

Aoki, fresh off wreaking havoc on the White Sox, stood out in an otherwise forgetful 10-1 loss on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium that dropped the Royals to 1 1/2 games back in the American League Central race. Aoki's two singles made him the only KC hitter to collect more than one hit.

The outfielder extended his multi-hit streak to four games, while upping his average to .813 (13-for-16) in that span. He has reached base in 15 of his last 18 plate appearances.

Aoki said he could not recall a hotter personal streak. Whether in three years with MLB or in eight seasons with Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan.

"I don't think so, not to this extent," Aoki said through a translator. "I'm having good at-bats and I'm going in the right direction."

Things were not always so peachy for Aoki. As recent as Sunday, his slash line sat at an uninspiring .265/.333/.333. In just four games, that line has rocketed to .284/.351/.354.

As for what's spurred this turnaround, Aoki couldn't identify anything tangible. He said he feels his swing is different, but he could not identify anything mechanically that's changed. Although, Aoki credited hitting coach Dale Sveum for the extra time the two have spent in the cage.

Jackson Alexander is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.