If Jake and Elwood Blues taught us anything, it is that no matter what, a group of guys can always come back together and acheive great things.
The Royals most likely will not be saving any Catholic Orphanages down the stretch in their bid for the playoffs, but they can still conjure up one last great run just like in the old days.
The Royals are putting the band back together.
The first call made was to Eric Hosmer. After starting the season hitting .195 through 20 games, he looked like a musician playing empty cocktail lounges. It got so bad that on May 5th, Keith Law actually put his name to an article in ESPN citing a "source" stating Hosmer might be in line for a contract of 2 years and $20 million in his off season free agency. Hosmer is now over .300, and is leading the All-Star voting for American League first baseman. He's back.
Lorenzo Cain showed up to spring training without even having someone to play catch with. Now he has a slash line of .282/.360/.459 and has suddenly found a new home run swing, blasting 6 in his last 11 games and 8 this month. Given that his previous season high for a season was 16, this "new and improved" power version of Lorenzo is something to keep watching.
Fellow bandmates briefly pulled Alex Gordon out of the diner, as he had a bit of resurgence at the beginning of June and put together a hot stretch of baseball, however his last 6 games of .111/.111/.111 play have put him right back behind the fryer flipping burgers instead of on the road with the boys. They attempted to reach him at his home, but he listed his address with the front office as 1060 West Addison Chicago Ill. Please come back Gordon.
The Royals offense as a whole has been mashing in the month of June with the same reckless abandon as driving through a shopping mall. As a team they are hitting .278/.322/.475 and have 28 home runs.
Pitching has been a pleasant surprise for the Royals, and even with the loss of Ace Danny Duffy, they have found a way to string together an extended stretch of winning baseball. When Nate Karns and Danny Duffy come back, it will be a welcome sight as the replacements have no doubt (and not surprisingly) struggled. Even though this rotation is on a mission from Glass, they still need all the help they can get.
Stalwart closer Kelvin Herrera is beginning to find his way, filling the enormous shoes of the departed Wade Davis in the closers roll. After blowing a couple of saves and being hung with a loss before the end of May, he has converted his last 9 save attempts. Teams are still hitting him pretty hard, but we will take the small victories for now and he has managed 13 strikeouts in his last 12 innings to only 2 walks.
It is true the Royals are on a mission, but this road isnt without its perrils. Ahead of them lies a large number of other teams with plans to stop them. The parity in baseball these days, paired with the allure of two wild card spots makes it difficult for any general manager to ever feel as though their team is out of contention.
The Royals are part of a pack of teams that makes up the majority of the American League. Even at .500, the Royals are only 4.5 games ahead of the last place team in the A.L. By the same token, they are also only 3.5 games out of first place in the division and 2 games out of the second wild card. There are five other teams in the league that have the same record as the Royals and 2 more within a half game either way. Its a big jumbled mess.
The GOOD news is the Royals were once sitting outside of this mess. The recent winning streak has catapulted them back into contention. And with a winning streak, comes the fans. Much like when Jake and Elwood began their concert, no one believed. But as they started playing, the crowds came. The Royals managed just under 31,000 fans for a Wednesday afternoon game that saw Salvy hit a go ahead grand slam late in the game, just like an order of 3 Orange Whips!
The influx in fans might be the spark needed to keep the Royals on their hot streak. Lets hope. And lets hope it keeps building. After all, everybody needs somebody.
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