Many have lamented the horrible 8-20 May that the Kansas City Royals made us suffer through and with good reason. Pick a number, 14-14? That would have been nice. Hell, what about 11-17? The inability to post even a stinking 11-17 May might be the reason the Royals don't make the playoffs. Really, really bad Kansas City teams have routinely managed to go 11-17.
May was a long time ago for those of us living in the 'now' society, however, and maybe it could be offered that the 17-3 run in late July/early August was the Baseball Gods way of making up for the awful May. I will buy into that, only because the games that are haunting this writer are not the 28 crappy ones in May, but the seven in a row the Royals lost in mid-August, when they were 'back in it'.
You all know the basics: the Royals won 17 out of 20 to push their record to eight games over .500 and return to relevancy. Even then, most knew that the division crown was out of reach, given that Detroit was basically winning at the same clip, but the wild card had come into play. Some of you will remind us all that Kansas City was always on the outside looking in, but there were playoff standings published at reputable sites and in print that contained 'Kansas City' in them. For those of us stuck in baseball purgatory, that counts.
Anyway, coming off a nice series win against Boston, the Royals beat Miami at home to open that three game set. In the category of 'you can't win every game, even when you should', the Royals lost 1-0 in 10 innings to the Marlins when Kelvin Herrera hit Jake Marisnick, who stole second and scored on a Christian Yelich single. It was a game that say Chris Getz and Jamey Carroll each get four at-bats, so there's that.
The Royals would lose to the Marlins again the next day when Tim Collins (with the help of an Elliot Johnson error) allowed two runs in the seventh and Luke Hochevar two more in the ninth. They would also drop the first game of a five game series at Detroit after that as we were reminded that Anibal Sanchez is better than Jeremy Guthrie.
That was a bad three game stretch, but maybe expected from a team that had been unbelievably hot for three weeks prior. While there was concern, it subsided as the Royals swept a doubleheader on Friday in Detroit. Danny Duffy outdueled Justin Verlander in the first game, 2-1. The only Tiger run scoring on an 8th inning home run by Ramon Santiago courtesy of an Aaron Crow pitch (remember that). James Shield threw seven shutout innings in game two as the Royals won 3-0. The Royals were sitting 6 1/2 games out of the A.L. Central lead and 5 games out of the Wild Card.
Then something bad happened.
Wade Davis started game four against Detroit and was bad. Four runs in less than four innings bad, but Kansas City actually brought its offense to the park that day and trailed just 4-3. Salvador Perez tied the game with a home run in the top of the 7th only to have Prince Fielder untie it with a homer off Will Smith in the bottom of the inning. Smith had been very good prior to that home run, so it's hard to find fault in having him in there.
Chris Getz - Chris freaking Getz - tied the game again int he 8th, singling in Emilio Bonifacio. The Royals then had runners on second and third with nobody out and, later, the bases loaded with one out only to have Billy Butler lineout and Alex Gordon ground out to end the inning with the score still tied. The Royals bunted twice after a Perez lead-off walk in the ninth and went to the bottom of the frame still tied.
Remember Aaron Crow? Well, out he strode for the ninth, fell behind Miguel Cabrera 3-1 and then watched his fifth pitch go a very, very long ways to end the game. That's ONE.
Cabrera would homer off Bruce Chen in his next at-bat the following day in a game in which the Royals were never really in. It was Scherzer versus Chen and while Bruce has been astounding much of the time this season, that's a bad match-up for the Royals. Let's face it Scherzer versus anyone is a pretty bad match-up. Oh yeah, and Miguel Cabrera is good.
While disappointing, losing three of five at Detroit was not a season wrecker. Getting swept at home by the White Sox might well have been.
Ervin Santana gave up a home run to Gordon Beckham in the first and another run scored on a passed ball by Perez in the second and the Royals fell 2-0. Kansas City hit seven singles and a double against John Danks and Addison Reed. It all felt very uninspired.
In the second game of the set, Jeremy Guthrie had one bad inning. In the fourth, he surrendered a double, a single, got a pop out, then another single and then a Dayan Viciedo grand slam. The Royals would parlay six singles and four walks into two runs, but lose 5-2...to the White Sox.
Game three really hurt. The Royals plated three in the fifth, but the White Sox chipped back against James Shields with two in the sixth and one in the seventh to tie the game. Kansas City's fifth sounds good, but it started with a walk and three consecutive singles and ended up with just two runs - both scoring on sacrifice flies. No extra base hits, again in this game.
Conor Gillaspie homered off Luke Hochevar in the top of the 12th. Luke would face seven hitters in this game, strike out four and Gillaspie was the only one to get the ball out of the infield. The Royals would turn a Billy Butler walk into a Jarrod Dyson steal of second to start their half of the 12th only to see Lough, Getz and Bonifacio not get Dyson home. That's a sweep...at home..against a team that came into town 25 games under .500....in August.
It would get worse.
Still at home, the Royals would lose 11-10 to Washington in the following game. Bruce Chen was bombed, allowing seven runs in the fourth (with help from Louis Coleman) after the Royals handed him a 6-1 lead. The Nationals would plate three more in the seventh courtesy of Tim Collins loading the bases with no one out and Kelvin Herrera unable to produce a miracle escape (with help from a mistake-free Chris Getz error). Kansas City would make it interesting by scoring three in the bottom of the ninth. Justin Maxwell was on first with one out (after driving in the second and third runs of the inning) only to see Bonifacio and Alcides Escobar fly out to end the game. Monday morning quarterbacking it may be, but Escobar at the plate with the game in the balance?
The next game, loss NUMBER SEVEN IN A ROW, was never in doubt. Wade Davis gave up three straight singles to start the game and eventually was allowed to hang around long enough to be tagged with seven runs over six innings of work. The Royals had nine hits that day: all singles.
Seven games in a row, five at home, three against one of the worst teams in the league: all losses. Just a month ago, the Kansas City Royals played some of their worst baseball of the year at a time when they needed to play at least competently.
What would you give for three, maybe even just two, wins out of that stretch?
During that time, Wade Davis made two awful starts. Chris Getz batted lead-off once, so did Jamey Carroll. Emilio Bonifacio played in centerfield FOUR times. Say what you want about the offensive skills of Justin Maxwell, Jarrod Dyson and David Lough, but I like any of those guys at that plate over Getz or Carroll.
Seven games in August: what would the season look like right now if the Royals had won just two of them?