Another mid September, another opportunity for the Royals to play spoiler in the pennant races. If that's your kind of thing.
(I mean, you're a Royals fan. What else is September for? I know I used to watch the standings in September... wishing the KC Star was able to post scores for West Coast games, but that was another lifetime ago. This is the 23rd consecutive season without meaningful baseball in the final month of the season. Wonderful.)
With baseball focusing their schedule on divisional play the final month of the season, the Royals finish with almost all of their games against Central foes. It's the right thing for baseball to do because it ensures the most entertaining baseball down the stretch. Except these games have no real meaning for the Royals, who were eliminated by mid-April this year.
Still, some of these remaining Royals games are must wins for the opposition. And for that reason, they matter. Hell, Ned Yost juggled his rotation so Jeremy Guthrie could start against the White Sox on Sunday. (Take that, South Siders!) And he's on the record as saying he will field his strongest teams against the contenders. There's no free ride when Jeff Francoeur is in the lineup.
After the jump is a look at the Royals remaining schedule and how they could potentially impact the pennant races...Here's the rest of the Royals season:
Let's take each opponent one by one.
The Royals make their final sojourn to Minnesota this week to take on the Twins. The Royals are currently five games ahead of the last place Twins. It's not inconceivable that they could dig their way out of the cellar and past Cleveland. But this week is their last chance to go head to head against the Royals.
If the Royals can stomp the Twins, they solidify their grip on third place.
The Angels are seven back of the Rangers in the West, but six consecutive wins have them tied, just a game behind the Orioles for the final wild card spot. Of the Royals remaining 22 games, the three against the Angels are the only ones outside the Central. The second place finisher in the Central will likely miss out on the wild card, so this is the Royals only opportunity to impact a race outside their division.
The White Sox
The White Sox are currently two games ahead of preseason favorite Detroit. The Royals have played the Sox extremely well this summer, winning 10 of 15, but the Tigers haven't been able to catch the leaders. While KC was winning in Chicago, Detroit was losing to the Angels. Plus, the Sox have four games against Detroit starting tonight, so one good series from the Fighting Venturas and this race could be over rendering this spoiler series moot. We'll see. With this series being the second to last taking place in the middle of the week, attendance should be around the 5,000 that actually attended the Ranger series last week. Exciting times.
The Indians were in first place on June 23. They've won 22 of 70 games since then. The Royals currently have a four game lead in the epic battle for fourth place. With six games remaining against the Indians, we basically control our own destiny. A good showing in a week and a half where the Royals take two of three could all but clinch divisional mediocrity. I don't know about you, but I have these dates circled on my magnetic schedule.
Detroit has the most favorable schedule of anyone in baseball coming down the stretch. Their opponents are averaging 64 wins. Meanwhile, the White Sox average remaining opponent has 66 wins. Since the Royals have 10 games remaining between the two, they are going to have a say in the finish. These two teams close out their season with three at the K. We all remember another three game series between this pair back in 2006 when the Royals swept the Tigers and lost the David Price sweepstakes. The Royals record is too good this year, so something crazy like that isn't going to happen.
At least I don't think something like that is going to happen.