BOSTON -- Entering Sunday's doubleheader, the Royals were percentage points ahead of the Tigers in the American League Central despite ranking 12th among 15 AL teams in runs scored.
"We're in first place and haven't even gotten going offensively yet," manager Ned Yost said. "But the pitching is carrying us right now, and there'll be times when the offense will carry us."
In the first game of the twin bill at least, he stayed with Eric Hosmer as his cleanup hitter, with Billy Butler in the third spot, even though both were sputtering at the plate.
"Trust me, I've been thinking about the lineup the whole time and just really hate moving guys around from game to game," Yost said. "I think, ideally, if Hoz is Hoz, he fits best in the [three-hole] and Billy in [fourth]. But we're not there yet, so we're just going from game to game and hoping for a big hit. ... Really, each individual hitter sets his spot in the lineup by his production."
Mendoza returns to Royals' rotation on Wednesday
BOSTON -- Right-hander Luis Mendoza will return to the rotation on Wednesday night, at Detroit. He was skipped in the last go-round because of open dates and hasn't pitched since April 12, when he made his second start.
Mendoza, whose return was facilitated by Sunday's doubleheader against the Red Sox, has a tough matchup ahead, as the Tigers will start Justin Verlander.
"We were going to bump Mendoza if we didn't have a doubleheader," manager Ned Yost said.
The day-night twin bill was just fine for the Royals, who aren't scheduled to return to Boston this year.
"We don't want to come back here on an off-day, fly in [just to] play a game," Yost said. "Play 'em while we're here."
Prior to the doubleheader, the Royals had played just three games since concluding a homestand last Sunday, and had played only 15 games in 20 days.
"I don't even feel like we've played that," Yost said.
Smith warmed by return to bullpen
BOSTON -- Left-hander Will Smith returned to the Royals on a cool but sunny Sunday, the 26th player permitted for the doubleheader against the Red Sox. He was warmed both by getting back to the Major Leagues and by leaving chilly Omaha behind.
"It's cold down there, I know that," Smith said. "This is summertime compared to that. It's snowing down there and everything, and we're getting snowed out."
Smith pitched in three games for the Storm Chasers.
"I threw the first game against Albuquerque at home, and it was the nicest day. It was 41 [degrees], I want to say, and the next day we got snowed and rained out, and the next day we got snowed out," he said. "So we had two off-days, but everybody stayed inside and didn't move."
On Sunday, Smith joined fellow lefties Bruce Chen and Tim Collins in the bullpen. Going into the doubleheader, the Red Sox were vulnerable to left-handed pitchers, batting just .200 against them, compared with .282 versus righties.
"He's a guy that gives us another left-handed arm that we can go long or we can go short with," manager Ned Yost said.
Kottaras makes the most of first '13 at-bat
BOSTON -- Catcher George Kottaras had to sit through 14 games before making his Royals debut on Saturday as a pinch-hitter. It was a success -- he patiently drew a walk in the ninth inning to keep a potential comeback alive in a 4-3 loss.
It was a good at-bat for a rusty player.
"I was looking for a guy that could hit the ball out of the park, but I knew he's a guy that, if they weren't going to throw him strikes, he would probably take a walk or put a good at-bat up," manager Ned Yost said. "He's that type of player."
Kottaras made his debut behind the plate in the night game of Sunday's twin bill, belting his first home run of the season in the fifth inning as the Royals posted a 5-4 win in 10 innings.
Gordon takes blame for collision with Cain
BOSTON -- Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain escaped injury, but they also missed the baseball in a collision during the Red Sox's fourth inning of Sunday night's 5-4 Royals victory.
They were converging on Mike Carp's fly ball, when they bumped into each other in left-center field and the ball fell safely. Carp reached third base and Gordon was charged with an error.
"This is probably the loudest stadium I played in for a while and we're just doing our best to communicate out there. But we've got to continue to talk and get better at it, because that just can't happen," Cain said.
"We both were calling it. He didn't hear me, I didn't hear him so we ran into each other."
Gordon, who has won Gold Glove Awards as the best American League left fielder the last two years, took the blame.
"He has responsibility, so I need to get out of the way," Gordon said. "I need to look to make sure he's coming. It's one of those in-between balls that we've got to clean up, and we will."
Carp wound up stranded at third base as Jeremy Guthrie retired the next two hitters.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.