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A look back at the 2015 Royals regular season: Part one

Opening Day was ages ago. Here's a look back at the first half of what became an AL-best 95-win season in Kansas City, from the first win to the KC-heavy All-Star game.

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Paulo Orlando's July 7 walkoff grand slam was a highlight of the first half.
Paulo Orlando's July 7 walkoff grand slam was a highlight of the first half.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The beginning of this 95-win behemoth of a season was so long ago. Let us rewind ourselves and look back on all the winning, a little bit of losing, and so many All-Stars.

April: Hot bats and hot tempers

Yordano Ventura started on Opening Day against Jeff Samardzija and the White SoxAlex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain both got hit by pitches, the genesis for a series of extracurricular issues that followed the team (or was led by them, whichever) well into the summer. Ventura looked injured, but it turned out he only had a hand cramp. Mike Moustakas homered to the opposite field, and the Royals won 10-1.

The next day, Cain was plunked again, as was Moustakas. Nothing happened, but bad blood was simmering. Paulo Orlando tripled in his big league debut to complete the sweep of the White Sox. He would also triple four more times in his next handful of games, securing his legacy as the best tripler ever to triple. The Royals won their first seven games of the year, the hottest start in baseball.

KC batters would be plunked again during a trip against their old pals the Angels. Ventura and Mike Trout had a little chat that led to the benches clearing.

The benches clearing would become a theme throughout April, with four incidents in total. These included the game with that one slide by Brett Lawrie, the night after that, and the time Ventura jawed at Adam Eaton in Chicago after an Eaton groundout. The Royals were 2014's darlings, but 2015's bad boys, giving rise to the 'Straight Outta Kauffman' meme and the notion that baseballs are a disgrace to baseball.

Villains though they were, the Royals finished April with a 15-7 record, and would never see the underside of .500. They scored over five runs per game, and allowed just 3.36 runs per game.

Alex Rios, left hand fracture, April 14.
Greg Holland, right pectoral strain, April 18.
Alcides Escobar, concussion, April 30.

MLB debuts:
Paulo Orlando, April 9
Orlando Calixte, April 19

May: Less pitching, less hitting, less winning

May was much less thrilling. The team was, at one point, 18-11 but did not implode. Luke Hochevar returned from the Tommy John surgery that left him out of the 2014 season on May 7. Greg Holland returned the same day from the pectoral strain that DL'd him in April. Danny Duffy pitched miserably a few times early in the month. Hundreds of Royals fans made the trek to Chicago to see the Royals play in Wrigley Field.

This Alex Gordon catch happened in May.

The Royals went 14-12 in May, scoring only 105 runs and giving up 101. They suffered their first four-game losing streak, which would be the longest such streak all year.

Injuries, etc.:

Erik Kratz, foot injury, May 4
Mike Mosutakas, bereavement leave, May 8. 
Danny Duffy, left biceps tendinitis, May 17

MLB debuts:

June: #VoteOmar and a record for Yost

June's first game was KC's sixth loss in seven games. The offense had pretty much flatlined. All the same, Royals fans had already begun stuffing ballot boxes for the All-Star Game. And the Royals won their 411th game under Ned Yost in June, making him Kansas City's all-time leader in wins.

A sweep over the Minnesota Twins brought things back to life momentarily, putting the Royals back in first place for good. The series included a game where Chris Young carried a no-hitter into the 7th, and Salvador Perez hit a ball so hard he didn't have to look at it to know it was gone. Young would later drive in three runs in a game against Milwaukee.

The rest of the month was solid. Kansas City dropped two in St. Louis before the series finale was rained out, then swept the Brewers in a 4-game series at Miller Park. They lost a series to the Red Sox, but balanced it with a series win over Seattle, then swept Oakland.

The Astros handed out two losses to end June for the Royals, and would go on to sweep them to start July, causing some to pronounce the Astros were the "dominant force" of the league. Kansas City went 15-11 overall in June, scoring and allowing 93 runs.


Jason Vargas, left flexor strain, June 7.
Yordano Ventura, right ulnar nerve inflammation, June 13

MLB debuts:

July: All the All-Stars

July started with a pair of losses that gave the Royals their second 4-game losing streak. That was, seemingly, the last of the losing as the team would go on to play over .600 the rest of the month.

July 3rd's game ended up being the game remembered for Dusty Coleman's baserunning blunder, but let us not forget that in that same game, Alex Rios got hit with a baseball right in the doodle.

Oh and also that the team walked off with a win in the 10th. A few days later, Paulo Orlando would hit a grand slam to give the home team another walkoff victory.

Orlando would be the hero again in the last game before the All-Royals All-Star break as well. That game was a seesaw, but the Royals beat Toronto 11-10 to end the first half on a high note. That week was not all roses, though, because the team was dealt a blow when Alex Gordon hurt his groin, causing him to miss six weeks of action.

All of the All-Stars

Balloting for the All-Star game began in June, and for the first time, it was completely online. Voters could, if they wished, enter any number of email addresses and vote 35 times per address all the livelong day. Royals fans ran with this loophole, and voted both early and often, even for Omar Infante. It ruffled all kinds of feathers, but no other fan base would rise up and stop the ballot stuffing, so the Royals were widely represented in the Midsummer Classic. It was probably obnoxious, but it was fun too.

Injuries, etc. from before the break:
Mike Moustakas, bereavement leave, July 6.
Alex Gordon, strained left groin muscle, July 9.

MLB debuts:
Dusty Coleman, July 3
Cheslor Cuthbert, July 7

The Royals finished the first half with a record of 52-34. Tomorrow, we'll look at the second half and the glory that was late July and August, and the dismal September. It all added up to the playoffs, which can go ahead and start any minute now.