So who had the Royals winning the AL Central? Or better, who had the Royals playing .500 baseball?
That's where I start, with the latter, at .500. In all probability, the Royals will be over .500 in a week. That's the starting point, especially in this division. Play it month by month. .480-.510 baseball, week to week, month to month, keeps you around in the Central most years. 86 wins got you to a one-game playoff in 2009. 88 wins got you to a one-game playoff in 2008. I'm just sayin'. No, I don't believe in this team. But what the hell, let's see what happens. If you can stay around .500, you can "contend" in this division.
Bruce Chen threw eight innings tonight, allowing just one semi-earned run. Unlike his last start, I'm not sure that this was dominance tonight, as much as it was a bad lineup being unable to string hits together in rainy game. Chen only struck out one batter, but thanks to just one walk and the sequencing of the Mariners' six hits, he remained in control. In the post- Voros MacCracken universe, we're right to be skeptical of nights like this. Nevertheless, it never seemed like the Mariners had anything going. And so... well, well, three starts in and an ERA under 3.00 and a handful of pitcher wins. C'mon Chen indeed.
This is a truism, but when Cabrera and Gordon are both hitting, and Butler is being Butler, this looks like a Major League lineup. Betemit is hitting again and more and more looks like the kind of random good player that bonafide good teams have. We all know that a brutal Gordon slump could come at any time, but my hope is that he'll continue to draw enough walks that the damage might be mitigated. The same goes for Kila, who returned from exile tonight with a decent game at the plate.
The Royals are 8-4. Battling the Indians for first place.