The Royals have lost 12 games in a row to the Texas Rangers. Even worse, they’ve lost 5 in a row around the All-Star Break since sweeping the Mariners. This is the beginning of what might be the most important stretch of games the Royals play all year - a stretch of 13 games against teams under .500 right before the trade deadline - and they have not started off strong at all.
A week ago the Royals were firmly in the playoff hunt, even holding on to a wild card game entry pass. The Royals are now back under .500 on the season after the first two debacles of the weekend, they are back in third place in the division, and they see 3 teams in their way to the Wild Card - now including the Rangers, themselves. If the Royals don’t find their offense and start winning in a hurry, they’re going to be buying themselves a third or fourth runner up trophy at the trade deadline.
Defending against the sweep will be Ian Kennedy. Ian has 3 straight quality starts after initially struggling in his return from injury. That stretch includes his second best start of the season by fangraphs.com’s Game Score Version 2 stat when he went 6.2 innings and allowed only a single run to the Seattle Mariners. Even against the powerful Dodgers lineup he allowed only 3 runs in 6 innings. He has made a start against the Rangers this year, a 7 inning, 1-run appearance.
The Rangers will send out their ace, Yu Darvish, who was selected for the All-Star Game but did not appear. He has faced the Royals once this year already, going 8 innings and allowing a pair of runs in a victory. His last start out was also pretty good, 7.2 innings and 2 runs allowed to the Angels but the start before that he gave up 7 runs to the Red Sox so he can be beaten. Whether the Royals are up to the task is anyone’s guess, though.
#Royals vs RHP Darvish:— Joel Goldberg (@goldbergkc) July 16, 2017
If the Royals lose today it will be the first time they were swept by an opponent in a season series totaling more than 3 games since the 2007 Orioles pulled off the feat by defeating the Royals 7 times. If the Royals want to imagine a deep post season run, they’d better start by imaging how to defeat Darvish and the Rangers, today.