It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The Royals had some hot streaks this year, but they certainly had some cold spells as well. A frigid July probably doomed their season, but it seems if only a few games had gone differently, the Royals might still be playing.
Here are the ten worst games of the season for the Royals.
May 9 vs. NY Yankees - Chris Young gives up a million home runs
The Royals were crashing back to earth after a hot start, not unlike the fly balls allowed by Chris Young that rose up high in the sky, only to fall back down into the hands of fans in the right field seats at Yankee Stadium. Young had struggled for over a month, and it came to a head in New York, where he gave up five home runs in less than three innings of work. Dillon Gee would come on to pitch over five innings of relief, doing excellent work to keep it close for the 6-3 loss that would drop the Royals below .500. Chris Young would be placed on the disabled list the next day, having given up 13 home runs in seven starts.
June 2 vs. Cleveland - Paulo Orlando misses
The Royals tied the game 2-2 on the first home run of the season by Drew Butera, then grabbed the lead on a Jarrod Dyson RBI single and extended it with a solo home run by Cheslor Cuthbert. The Royals took a 4-2 lead into the eighth, but their usual dependable defense and bullpen went missing. Alcides Escobar botched a routine grounder. Omar Infante botched a routine ground ball double play with an errant throw to first. Kelvin Herrera allowed an RBI single to Tyler Naquin to make it a one run game.
With Wade Davis out, Joakim Soria was brought in to protect a one-run lead in the ninth. Carlos Santana singled and advanced to second on a bobble by defensive replacement in right field, Paulo Orlando. Francisco Lindor laced a sinking line drive to right field that Orlando dove for and missed, allowing the tying run to score and putting Lindor at third with a triple. A Mike Napoli sacrifice fly would win the game 5-4 for the Indians.
June 7 vs. Baltimore - Yordano Ventura brawls with Manny Machado
Yordano Ventura was on his best behavior much of the year, a far cry from his controversial 2015 season, but he did have one big dust-up on June 7 in Baltimore. Ventura gave up four runs in the first and another in the second. In that inning, Ventura brushed Orioles infielder Manny Machado off the plate, which seemed to annoy Machado. When Manny flied out to left, he barked at Ventura.
When Machado came up in the fifth, Ventura plunked him in the back with a 99 mph fastball. Machado charged the mound and we had a brawl. The Royals were drilled and embarrassed that night, and Ventura would later serve a nine-game suspension.
June 24 vs. Houston - Edinson Volquez gives up all the runs
The Royals had struggled with starting pitching much of the year, but Edinson Volquez turned in a historically bad performance in the first game of a series against the Astros in Kauffman Stadium. George Springer led the game off with a triple, and came up later in the inning to hit a grand slam as the Astros hung nine runs in the first off Volquez. It didn’t get much better in the second with Volquez getting pulled after loading the bases, only to see all three runners score off reliever Dillon Gee. The Royals would fall 13-4, and Volquez saw his ERA jump a full run in what might have been the worst start in MLB history.
July 17 vs. Detroit - Joakim Soria gives up Salty walk-off
The Royals went into a swoon in July and needed a win against division rival Detroit when they got a terrific performance over seven innings by Yordano Ventura and were tied 2-2 in the ninth. Their prospects seemed decent considering the struggles the Tigers bullpen had endured, but one Royals reliever had struggles of his own - Joakim Soria. Ned Yost brought Soria in to face the bottom of the order. He threw just four pitches. Tyler Collins singled and Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a two-run, walk-off home run to win the game, one of thirteen games where Soria would give the opponent the lead.
July 26 vs. LA Angels - July swoon culminates in blowout loss
It was a bad season for the Angels, who basically looked like Mike Trout and the seven dwarfs this year, but they looked like the ‘27 Yankees against the Royals in a series in July. The Royals were in freefall by the time the Halos came in town, having lost 13 of 19 games before the series. The Royals dropped the first game of the series, then could muster no offense against Tyler Skaggs, managing just three hits and no runs. Dillon Gee was not great, giving up five runs in five innings, but the game didn’t truly get out of hand until a ridiculous seven-run ninth inning that saw twelve Angels hitters, and three Royals relievers, including backup catcher Drew Butera, who recorded the final out in a 13-0 blowout.
August 3 vs. Tampa Bay - Ugly all around
Edinson Volquez wasn’t quite as bad as he was in his Houston start, but his start against the Rays was part of a second-half demise that may have cost him a chance at a lucrative contract this winter. Eddie gave up four runs in the first, but labored to keep the Royals in the game for a few innings. Ned Yost kept him to start the sixth, where he allowed the first two runners to reach. Reliever Chris Young immediately gave up a three-run home run to Kevin Kiermaier and the rout was one. The Royals managed just two hits off former Royals prospect Jake Odorizzi, and committed three errors in the 12-0 blowout.
August 30 vs. NY Yankees - Soria can’t handle it
A red-hot August put the Royals right back in playoff contention as they faced the Yankees at home for a crucial series. The Royals won the series opener to pull within two games of a Wild Card spot. They overcame a rough start by Edinson Volquez and trailed 4-3 going into the eighth inning.
Tyler Clippard walked Lorenzo Cain to lead off the inning, prompting manager Joe Girardi to bring in closer Dellin Betances to try to get the six remaining outs. Cain stole second, then advanced to third when the throw by catcher Gary Sanchez skipped into the outfield. A Kendrys Morales sacrifice fly would get him home to tie the game. The game would eventually go to extra innings, where Joakim Soria would be brought on to start the tenth.
Soria gave up two singles, but then struck out the next two, giving hope he could work out of the jam. A walk to Brett Gardner loaded the bases. Jacoby Ellsbury hit a groundball back to the mound that Soria just missed, allowing the lead run to score. The Royals loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning, but Kendrys Morales struck out and Salvador Perez flied out to end the game, a 5-4 loss that the Royals would very much regret.
August 31 vs. NY Yankees - Contention slips away
The Royals had a chance to rebound the next night, and it looked good when they jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Ian Kennedy gave up three runs in the sixth, then came back out for the seventh where he would put the runners on base that would eventually tie the game 4-4. The game went into extras, where the Royals had a chance to win it when pinch-runner Billy Burns stole second and third, but Paulo Orlando’s line drive was snared by second baseman Starlin Castro.
With few relief options left in extras, Ned Yost turned to Chris Young, who escaped a bases-loaded jam in the twelfth. In the thirteenth, he gave up a single to Didi Gregorious and a double to Starlin Castro. A sacrifice fly by Brian McCann would push a run across to make it 5-4, Yankees. A leadoff walk by Cheslor Cuthbert in the bottom of the inning would be erased by a double play by Eric Hosmer, and Kendrys Morales would be retired to end the game, and likely, Kansas City’s chances of contending.
September 12 vs. Oakland - The season effectively ends
The Royals still felt like they could have a chance to contend in mid-September if they got hot with an eight-game stretch against two losing teams - the A’s and White Sox. The A’s, however, proved to be no pushover. Dillon Gee was rocked for five runs in less than four innings of work, and things just got worse from there. Chris Young and Alec Mills each gave up four runs in relief, as the A’s drubbed the Royals 16-3, part of a four-game sweep in which they would outscore Kansas City 43-12.