As of yesterday afternoon, Mike Moustakas led the AL Final Vote competitors for the last spot on the AL All-Star Team. #VoteMoose:
Moustakas, who hit his team-leading 25th home run on Wednesday, leads Boston's Xander Bogaerts, New York's Didi Gregorius, Texas' Elvis Andrus and Tampa Bay's Logan Morrison in the American League Final Vote.
Moustakas was a 2015 All-Star after winning the Final Vote, and Royals fans and teammates are pushing for the same result this season.
Ned Yost has no idea why the Royals would sell:
“We’re a game and a half out of first place,” Yost said, sitting in his office here on Wednesday afternoon. “Why would we even think about selling?”
Indeed, the Royals (43-40) began the day just 1 1/2 games behind Cleveland in the American League Central. As they prepared to conclude a series against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field, they sat tied with the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays for the second Wild Card spot. Just a month removed from sitting in last place, a full eight games under .500, the Royals had played inspired baseball, winning 17 of 23 and surging back into the playoff hunt.
The club remains positioned to push for its third playoff appearance in four seasons. Yet, the organization will still face a free-agent puzzle in the offseason as Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Jason Vargas and Alcides Escobar prepare to hit the open market for the first time. The situation has complicated a difficult question.
It’s official: Danny Duffy will start in Travis Wood’s stead:
"He's our No. 1 starter. It was an easy decision," manager Ned Yost said of Duffy. "And he's healthy."
Right-hander Jason Hammel will start Friday and right-hander Ian Kennedy will be on the mound on Saturday, setting up Duffy to match up with the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw in the final game before the All-Star break.
Duffy (5-4, 3.51 ERA) returned from the disabled list on Tuesday, after being out since May 28 with a right oblique strain. The lefty settled in after surrendering a pair of first-inning runs, allowing just those two runs on five hits over 5 2/3 innings in a win.
David Lesky thinks about a prospective Royals pennant race:
They’re currently tied for the second Wild Card and 1.5 games out of both the AL Central division lead and the first Wild Card with 79 games to go. If you had told me in April that we’d be looking at those standings when fireworks were going off, I’d have told you that you were insane.
The work, of course, is not done. There still are those 79 games to go. I’ve said this a couple times, but I’d be satisfied with them reaching the break at over .500. That means they need to win one of their next four games before Moose takes his cuts in the Home Run Derby on Monday evening in Miami. I think that’s more than doable, even as good as the Dodgers are. Hell, with Jason Vargas going tonight, they might be able to take care of that and exceed my hopes with a win in Los Angeles.
But where the Royals can really do some damage is the friendly (on paper) schedule after the break. They get to start the season’s second half (yes, I hate that, but it’s just easier to call it that) with a 10-game homestand against three teams that are currently under .500 and either contemplating selling or compiling offers. The Rangers, Tigers and White Sox are all teams the Royals should be able to beat if they are going to make the postseason this year. It’s not as easy as it might look, though. The Royals are 4-13 against those three teams, though all the damage from the Rangers and some of the damage from the White Sox came during that nine-game losing streak. I believe this is a different team since then.
We were playing some pretty good baseball,” Mike Moustakas said. “Then you get your No. 1 guy back." https://t.co/1kw6ds0BXC— Rustin Dodd (@rustindodd) July 5, 2017
Matt Swartz dives into the relationship between spending efficiency and labor markets.
Russell Carleton dives into baseball’s great debates.
Tony Blengino explores the new, dong-happy world in which we live.
At the Hardball Times, John Paschal looks at players who had just a single cup of coffee in the bigs.
New evidence has surfaced suggesting that Amelia Earhart may have survived her crash and died in custody of the Japanese.
Broken Social Scene’s ring leader Kevin Drew talks about the band’s first release in seven years.
If you needed more reasons not to shop at Hobby Lobby, they were just found guilty of smuggling artifacts out of Iraq and slapped with a seven-figure fine.
The song of the day is “Downtown” by Majical Cloudz: