We gather together this Sunday in something of a dark mood. Less than a week ago the Royals won their first game at Busch III, pushing their record to 29-42 and staying even with the White Sox in the win column and two games ahead of cellar-dwelling Texas. Better still, the Royals moved to 10-7 in June, making their first winning month since 2003 a real possibility. As the Royals did in May however, a late-month swoon has pushed the team back down to 10-11 for the month and back to the American League cellar. Finally, in the last two games Jorge de la Rosa and Brian Bannister pitched rather poorly, furthering our suspicions that the Royals are still many long voyages away from landing on the shores of respectability thanks to a crew of functional pitchers.
On the other hand, the winning-month/losing-month distinction is patently silly. Months are perhaps our least useful way of keeping time, while we all act differently depending on hours and days, what really changes when the calendar rolls from May to June? If the Royals had rearranged a few hot and cold spells here and there, they could have easily finished with a "winning" May and still fundamentally been the same team. Of perhaps a greater significance is the fact that last night the Royals played their 75th game.
Royal Records Through 75 Games Since 2003
What the recent losing streak robs us of is a chance to glance at the won-loss figure and positively generate a hypothesis of progress. At, say, 31-44, the Royals would be 6 wins ahead of last season's pace. Not tremendously better, no, but theres something to be said for not still owning a win total in the twenties at the end of June, either.
(Speaking of the 2004 Royals, there are more holdovers from that team than you might expect, especially regarding position players: Buck, DeJesus, Sweeney, Blanco, Phillips, Berroa, Gobble and Greinke. Teahen was acquired in 2004 as well, but didn't make his debut until 2005. The pitching staff is a different animal, and its fascinating how the Royals essentially find a new group of thirty guys to throw the baseball for the team every season, then discard 28 of them, and do the same thing the next year. This has been going on for over a decade now.)
So here we are, staring down a sweep at the hands of the Brewers with only Odalis Perez (4-7, 6.06 ERA) standing in their way. As Dick Kaegel notes today on the official site, Perez is now below a 5.00 ERA, at least on the road (4.97 baby!). The Brewers counter with Yovani Gallardo (1-0, 4.26 ERA), a right-hander from Mexico (by way of Texas), making his second career start. He is the first Major Leaguer named "Gallardo" and probably the first named "Yovani".
It should be a magical afternoon.
This Week at Royals Review
• Rey Sanchez is the 99th Greatest Royal Ever.
• Relatively speaking, the Royals actually draw quite well.
• Meanwhile, the Royals found a crushing way to lose to the worst Cardinals team in a decade.
• The Royals are holding it down in Trenton, Missouri, Popcorn Capitol of the Greater Northern Mo/Southern IA Region.
• Remember when Milton Bradley was a Royal? That was the special time for all of us.