Wild Card Fever: Cuts like a knife

Bonifacio photo bomb. - John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Ouch.

There's no way to sugarcoat this one. It hurt. Badly.

When a team builds itself on pitching and defense and said pitching and defense have crippling lapses in the same crucial game, the results tend not to be favorable. That's not a Royals thing. It's a baseball thing. It happens. You just hope it doesn't happen when your team is 2.5 games back of the post season and the teams in front of you are winning.

Yes, Ned Yost screwed the pooch again last night. It happens several times a week. Although while his bullpen management was again too automatic for my tastes, the loss ultimately is on the shoulders of the players and their lack of execution at critical moments. As Mellinger notes, this is a type of game a playoff contender should have won.

Here are the current standings with the latest odds. Warning: May not be suitable for optimists.

Team W L PCT GB %
Tampa Bay 82 68 .547 ---- 69.3
Texas 82 68 .547 ---- 62.7
Cleveland 82 69 .543 -0.5 54.3
Baltimore 80 70 .533 -2.0 8.4
Kansas City 79 72 .523 -3.5 2.9
New York 79 72 .523 -3.5 2.4


Time is running out. If the Royals don't feel a sense of urgency now, there's no way we can help them. And if Ned Yost feels the heat - and every indication is that he does - he's going to find another way to spit the bit tonight.

Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay Rays
Derek Holland vs Chris Archer

I know there's been some debate about which outcome of this series is most favorable to the Royals. Dan Szymborski explained the scenario in the comments here yesterday and on Twitter. The basic math is that the Royals need to secure one spot, so it makes sense for one of the contenders to sweep the other. (This is all predicated on the Royals continuing to win, of course) A Rays sweep of the Rangers would have pulled the Royals just ahead of Texas and they could have finished the off over the weekend. If the Rays and Rangers split, that would be basically more of the same - the treading water scenario I've been breaking out daily here - which at this point in the season isn't ideal.

New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays
Phil Hughes vs JA Happ

The Yankees have now dropped four in a row. Their schedule down the stretch is insanely easy. But at this point it's possible not even a favorable schedule can save them.

Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox
Wei-Yin Chen vs Jake Peavy

Big late inning win from the Orioles last night to keep them with the pack and gain some separation from the bottom.

Cleveland Indians as Kansas City Royals
Danny Salazar vs Bruce Chen

Yep.

A painful night. And to keep the pain going, I present Mr. Bryan Adams in all his '80s glory:


Here's what we need today:

-- A Royals win.
-- A Rays win.
-- A Yankees loss.
-- An Oriole loss.

I said at the start of the week the Royals needed a sweep of the Indians. That's not going to happen. So tonight's game is as must win as they come.

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