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Royals Rumblings - News for October 5, 2015

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ALWAYS OCTOBER

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Royals Rumblings - News for October 5, 2015

The Royals concede they may have lost their focus, but now they're ready for action.

"I think we just got into a little phase there where we clinched and maybe there wasn’t the same motivation or excitement," Gordon said. "But as the year got closer to the playoffs, I think guys started to turn it on a little bit."...

"I’m glad we’re done with the first part of our season," Yost said. "I’m glad we’re done with the marathon, the 162. Now the fun starts."

Andy McCullough writes that despite the September swoon, the Royals are stronger than they were last year.

In 2015 the Royals have scored over 100 more runs and hit over 40 more home runs than they did in 2014. The staff-wide ERA was 3.76 in 2015 heading into Saturday, comparable to last season’s 3.51 mark. The defense once again leads the American League in advanced metrics such as FanGraphs’ defensive runs above average and defensive runs saved. Plus, the players and coaches say, they can draw from a sudden wealth of experience and confidence in October.

"We’re more of a complete team this year," Cain said. "Even though we played the way we did, ended up sweeping teams throughout the playoffs, I feel like we’re more complete. At the end of the day, you get to that postseason, it’s a whole different level of baseball. All that goes out the window. It’s either who shows up, or who gets how at the right time."

You can talk about between the ears all you want, but Sam Mellinger says Yordano Ventura's turnaround has been the curveball.

"Yeah, yeah," catcher Sal Perez says when asked if this was the best Ventura has ever been. "When he’s got that secondary pitch for a strike, then he’s going to be great. Then we can throw offspeed behind the count, and we’re comfortable because we know he can throw it for a strike."

The remaking of Ventura has been largely because of that curveball and changeup. He has a tattoo of a flaming baseball on his arm, and over the last two seasons only two regular starting pitchers have thrown harder fastballs. But, like Perez says, it’s the offspeed pitches — and that curveball in particular — that are making him special.

Mellinger dismisses the importance of home field advantage.

In the last 20 years, the team with home-field advantage has won 19 of 40 league championship series. You notice that is less than half, even though the team with home-field advantage is generally better — at least, when judged by regular-season wins....

The only way home-field advantage matters is if there is a game seven. And in those games, the home team has a somewhat less-than-resounding 5-4 advantage. Look, playing at home is fun. Everybody loves to be loved. Getting the last at-bat is nice, too, and there is an advantage in how you can use your bench and bullpen. All of those things make sense. It’s just that in 20 years of wild-card teams in the playoffs, there is no evidence that home-field advantage matters any more than whether your neighbor is wearing clean underpants.

Greg Holland successfully underwent Tommy John surgery on Friday.

Joe Posnanski penned an ode to former Royals pitcher Jeremy Affeldt, who announced his retirement.

We talked sometimes. He told me one of my favorite Zack Greinke stories, one that I have shared many times. Affeldt gave up a home run. When the inning ended, he went back to the dugout and was grumbling to himself. "That wasn’t even that bad a pitch," he said.

"Actually," said Greinke, who suddenly appeared, "it was a pretty bad pitch," Affeldt looked up in disbelief.

"Thanks, Zack," he said sarcastically.

"No," Greinke said. "Really. I went back to the clubhouse to looked at on video. It was really a bad pitch." Affeldt, now feeling a bit like a sitcom character, said again:

"Thanks, Zack."

"Really, right down the middle, I could have hit it out." At this point, Affeldt just shrugged.

"Thanks, Zack," he said a third time.

Ned Yost was the least-meddling manager in baseball, according to Ben Lindbergh's analysis.

Two Royals/Orioles ALCS games were the highest-rated baseball games on cable last year.

Max Scherzer throws his second no-hitter of the season.

Ichiro Suzuki pitched in a game and OMG IT WAS FANTASTIC.

The Texas Rangers fire their social media person after a tweet calling for the firing of Texas Longhorns football coach Charlie Strong.

The Yakult Swallows go from worst to first to clinch the Central League in Japan.

Beyond the Boxscore looks at the financial impact of a post-season berth.

The Chiefs were great at kicking, not so good at other aspects of football on Sunday.

Oops, the Big 12 acknowledges the referees messed up in the Kansas State game.

Liverpool sacks manager Brendan Rodgers.

Kansas City is breaking tourism records.

Why do so many Americans mistakenly believe they have Cherokee blood?

Why is Des Moines a millennial paradise right now?

Does The Martian have a shot at Best Picture?

Your song of the day is Tool with "Stinkfist."