The Royals won last night for the first time in six games. The last time the Royals blew a late-inning lead on a two-run hit and roared back the next inning they started a nine-game winning streak. Most Royals fans would probably be OK if the team did an encore performance.
The American League Wild Card standings continue to be insane; entering play today the Royals are tied with the Twins and Rays for 0.5 games back of the second wild card spot. Everyone but Detroit, Oakland, and the White Sox are within four games of a playoff spot. The end of this season may end up being the most exciting of the two-wild card era. With every passing day where no team can gain any true separation from the others it becomes less likely that one, two, or even three of them will separate themselves from the rest.
If the Royals want to hang with the pack and give themselves a chance to be one of the teams that could pull away they will probably need to start by winning today which would allow them their first series victory since they played the other color of Sox in Boston.
On paper the pitching match-up would seem to heavily favor the Royals. Unfortunately Jason Vargas has not been nearly the same pitcher since the beginning of July. He’s been terrible in four of his last six starts, allowing 9 home runs in only 28.1 innings.
The good news is that Derek Holland hasn’t been much better. Over the same span he’s given up 10 home runs in 36 innings. He’s also walked 24 while only striking out 20. The period includes one start against the Royals in which he allowed 3 runs in 4.2 innings, taking a no decision.
#Royals vs LHP Holland:— Joel Goldberg (@goldbergkc) August 13, 2017
The Royals need a win today. Maybe Jason Vargas is just worn out after pitching so many innings his first year back following Tommy John surgery. But maybe he can find it in himself to go on another run and help the Royals gain some ground in the playoff hunt.