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“Every time I think I’m out, They pull me back in…” — Michael Corleone
Is this even new anymore? The Royals teetering on the brink and then rising up to get their heads above water? It has seemed a constant theme the last 2 years, only they ran out of time in the 2013 season.
This season, it seems to be much the same, though the cast of characters in the wild card chase have set a much lower bar as a whole. The first wild card is all but locked up, barring a collapse of course, by either the Oakland A’s or the Angels. This leaves a group of teams all vying for one spot, and what a muddled bunch it is. Toronto, Kansas City, Seattle, New York and Cleveland are all within 3.5 games of the final spot. Even teams like Tampa Bay and Chicago (at 5.5 and 6 games back respectively) are only a 10 game win streak away from being in the spot themselves. The Royals have already shown that mediocre teams can do that this year so don’t laugh it off just yet.
So how are Royals fans suppose to feel? Who do we root for? I saw the latter being asked during the Detroit/New York series, and I believe the answer is simple. Any team playing Detroit, you root for. At the end of the day, to gain the wild card spot it becomes a simple matter of winning games. With 50 games yet to play, we are not even yet sure WHO the Royals will be battling for the final wild card spot if that just so happens to be the consolation we end up perusing. But one thing we DO know…Detroit is in first, and is the team to beat in the Central.
Winning the division must still be the primary goal. The wild card being reduced to nothing more than a play in game has once again placed a mark of heavy emphasis on coming out on top within your own division. That is the prize. The Royals currently stand 3.5 games back of the Detroit Tigers. A sizeable, but by no means insurmountable deficit. In the last 10 games, they have shaved 2 games off of Detroit’s lead, and if they can continue to take care of business while the Tigers stumble a little…well.
The Royals have won their last 11 of 14 games. On July 21st, after losing their 4th straight game out of the break, it would have been easy to leave this team for dead. They were 2 games under .500, and didn’t seem to posses the kind of offense needed to reel off a sustained win streak. Of late they have found just the right mixture of offense and pitching to get the job done, and that is all anyone ever hoped for this team to begin with but they MUST score runs to win.
Billy Butler and Nori Aoki have begun being the players it was hoped they would be at the beginning of the season, and their resurgence is a big part of why this team is winning games. Mike Moustakas has found a way to not be a black hole in the batting order (though lets not kid ourselves, since his “demotion” he is hitting .227/.287/.442, which while representing an enourmous upgrade is still a disappointing stat line for a corner infielder) and as long as the rest of the team can be normal, this team can look ok if you squint just right.
This is it folks…the stretch of baseball where it matters. You might say its a tad too early, but my counter to that is this team NEEDS to start early given their propensity to go on “benders” and lose sizable chunks of games now and again. We know what this team is (barring a late season trade, which Royals Review breaks down here). The question is, is it good enough to make the playoffs.
We are only 50 games away from finding out.
Is Mike Moustakas fixed? Here’s a better question – are the Royals fixed? Moustakas provided all of the offense, Yordano Ventura did his job and the bullpen was nails yet again as Kansas City downed Arizona 4-3. The Royals won their fifth consecutive ... Read more