One of the Royals' biggest problems early this season was their inability to bounce back. If they lost the lead in the game they seemed to just give in there. When the Royals have lost their first game after winning they've lost at least one more in 9 out of 16 opportunities. Right after the Royals got back to .500 for the last time so far this season they immediately lost 9 in a row. After their modest 4-game winning streak earlier this year shortly after they temporarily reinstituted #EskyMagic they promptly lost 2 more.
The most important thing the Royals can do now that they've lost their winning streak is to avoid even a 2-game losing streak. This would happily coincide with last week's Sunday gamethread demand that the Royals win 7 of 9 on this road trip in order for the team to feel like they're really back in it. That means they need to win, today. And then they probably need to win at least 3 but probably more like 4 of their next 6 games against the Red Sox and Blue Jays at home.
Then again they'd be getting ahead of themselves to worry too much about their games the rest of the week when they still need to win, today. Fortunately for them they'll have Jason Vargas going on the mound. Many, many people - including yours truly - have said, "Wow Vargas looks really good! But he'll come back down to earth sometime soon." The thing is, in the same way that the Royals offensive struggle and record can no longer be dismissed as "it's early" the same thing can be applied in a good way Vargas. He's made 13 starts - more than 1/3 of the season - and while he's not been as dominant as he was in that first month he's still rolling along with a 9-3 record to go with his gorgeous 2.10 ERA. He's striking out more batters and walking fewer than he ever has over a full season before. His groundball rate has stabilized a bit and is actually below his career norms, but he's limiting the home runs his opponents hit as well. It may be time to start thinking this is the real Vargas.
The Angels will counter with JC Ramirez, not to be confused with J.C. Romero who also once pitched for the Angels and Phillies. Ramirez actually made his first major league start against the Royals earlier this year and allowed 5 runs in 5 innings while taking a loss. This was back when Alex Gordon was still leading off, so you know how atrocious the offense was then. And it wasn't the last time Ramirez gave up 5 or more runs in a game - he's done it twice since. His last start was much better, though, as he went 6.2 innings and struck out 7 while only allowing 2 runs in earning a no-decision against the Yankees.
Hopefully the Royals will be able to build on their previous success against JC and come away with a series victory and rebuild their momentum before heading home. Oh, and happy father's day to all you dad's out there!