This One Hurts: Royals Swept by Angels

There are like six different alternate universes where the Royals won this game. People are happy there.

The Royals made a number of mistakes late, and Jamey Wright -- a bullpen savior thus far -- couldn't get the job done.

And yet, the Royals were still in a position to retake the lead in the 9th. It didn't happen, in large part because Torii Hunter made a tremendous play, robbing Olivo of a homer. DDJ's pursuit of the lowest WPA in league history sealed the fate of the brief Bloomquist and Crisp mini-rally.

Lost in the late-inning meltdown was a nice start by Davies, and a mini-comeback at that. Davies has become something of an enigmatic pitcher over the last year. He had his best success last year, despite a drop in his K-rates. Paired with Bannister's increase in strikeouts, but generally decreased success last season, it makes for something of a curious pairing. The gap between these two pitchers owes a lot more to their externals and a likely difference in reading habits than how they've pitched. So did Davies only allow three hits because he's smart? I'll let someone else answer.

It all adds up to something of a lost weekend out in Orange County for the Royals, complete with two one-run losses, albeit ones of very different shapes on Saturday and Sunday. The sweep is especially painful considering that the Royals had their three best pitchers start each game.

It's hard to find a comparable case, because the Royals haven't played meaningful baseball in years, but if anything, the last three nights remind me of a long Royals-Blue Jays series early in 2003. The Royals went to Toronto 16-3,  winners of five straight games. The Royals lost the series opener 6-5 in the 9th inning, but came back to win the next day, 9-6, thanks to three runs of their own in the ninth. The series swung on game three, a heartbreaking 10-9 loss. The Royals led that game 7-0, and 8-1 at various points, and took a 9-4 lead into the ninth. From there, Ryan Bukvich and Mike MacDougal proceded to allow a single-single-walk-groundout-double-double-HBP-groundout-single-single sequence (it isn't easy to allow six runs with no homers involved) to blow the game. The Royals went on to be swept by Boston, and eventually went from 17-4 to 27-27 in no time. Everyone blamed the Toronto series finale, and to this day I can remember the hundreds of emails that circulated on the Royals email list I was on at the time after that 10-9 game.

The funny thing is, though that Royals team did completely blow its hot start (a start which remains one of the most beautifully random baseball events of this century) it didn't kill their season. They got hot again, and while they didn't play .800 baseball for three weeks again, they rebounded and built a nice divisional lead, only to lose it all again.

So what's the connection to this year's team? We don't know yet. We don't know yet in like six different ways. Did that Toronto loss back in 2003 cause the Royals to spiral? Maybe, maybe not. Will this cursed little weekend in the O.C. send this year's suprise Royals back to the cellar? Will it make them stronger? Or will it just prove to be three random games? No one knows.

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