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Game 138 Open Thread- Royals (62-75) at Rangers (63-74)

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Well, here we are on September 4th, with the Royals sitting at 62-75, having already matched last season's win total 25 games ahead of schedule. Last season, the Royals dropped to 59-100 on September 28th, before surging toward 62 wins thanks to a season ending sweep of the Tigers in Detroit. The next time the Royals win a game, it'll be their first time as 63 game winners since 2003, when they finished 83-79 (picking up #63 at game 117: 63-54), prior to that year, you have to go all the way back to 2001, when the Royals hit 63 in the last week of the campaign, en route to a 65-97 finish.

Pinch Me: The Royals Recent Records Through 137 Games

2007: 62-75
2006: 50-87
2005: 44-93
2004: 49-88
2003: 71-66
2002: 55-82
2001: 55-82
2000: 65-72

Even amongst those of us who follow the Royals on a daily basis, its difficult to fully grasp how terrible those 2004-6 teams really were. The Royals had been a bad franchise for a decade, had a fluke season in 2003 where about 20 things went right at the same time, then followed that up with an almost complete bottoming out which lasted three seasons. The effect those three seasons had on the strength of the Royals brand here in the Midwest cannot be underestimated, the only real comparable is the current situation the Pirates find themselves in, and they have avoided the utter depths of patheticness those teams reached. Just last season, the Royals opened the year with a two month stretch of horribleness which put them on par with the worst teams, ever.

Aside from the happy thoughts of being sixteen wins ahead of the 2005 pace, what stands out from that list is the surprisingly not completely horrible 2000 team. That team finished at 77-85, and played at or near .500 baseball every month of the season save a 10-17 meltdown in July. 2000 was the apex of the Sweeney-Dye-Damon-Beltran-Quinn-Randa era of competent offense, as Damon and Dye were both traded in 2001 (Jaunary and July, respectively). Essentially, that team's core bore carried only a faint lineage into the 2003 team that almost won one of the weakest divisions ever... Let us pause beside these tombs.

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Tonight the Royals send 2004 2nd round pick William Jennings Buckner to the mound for his first Major League start. In two relief appearances for the Royals, Buckner has a 1.17 ERA in 7.2 IP. This season, between Wichita and Omaha Billy posted a 3.92 ERA.

The Rangers counter with the always angry Kevin Millwood. Millwooooood up to no good!