The Royals head into the All-Star break 27-68, but their pythagorean expectation based on run differential suggests they should be 29-66, so they have had some tough breaks this year.
Wins have been tough to come by this year, so when one comes around, you have to savor it like a rare gem. Let’s look back on all 27 Royals wins from the first half this year.
Win #1 - April 3 at Detroit. The Royals dropped their first three games of the year, but up in Detroit, on a frigid 40 degree afternoon, Jake Junis tossed seven shutout innings in a 1-0 Royals win. We were all ready to sign Junis to a ten-year extension after that. Record: 1-3
Win #2 - April 7 at Cleveland. Another frigid afternoon with a gametime temperature of 34 degrees, another 1-0 Royals win. This time it was Ian Kennedy with six shutout innings, and the Royals got shutout innings from both Blaine Boyer and Justin Grimm, which was like finding a unicorn. We were still blaming the slow start on cold weather. Record: 2-4
Win #3 - April 9 vs. Seattle. The Royals enjoy their biggest margin of victory of the year to date, 10-0 blowout of the Mariners. Jake Junis again tossed seven shutout innings in his second start and Mike Moustakas capped the night off with a home run off Taylor Motter. Things were looking up. Record: 3-5
Win #4 - April 20 at Detroit. The Royals finally won a game without shutting out an opponent, taking the second game of a doubleheader, a 3-2 win over the Tigers. The Royals trailed 2-1 heading into the ninth, but Ned Yost pressed the right button in pinch-hitting Ryan Goins for Paulo Orlando, starting three consecutive singles that tied the game. Tigers first baseman Niko Goodrum flubbed a ball hit by Jon Jay to allow a run to score, giving the Royals the lead. Record: 4-14
Win #5 - April 22 at Detroit. Abraham Almonte launched a grand slam in the sixth to give the Royals a five-run inning in an 8-5 win over the Tigers to split the series. We were ready to proclaim him the next J.D. Martinez. Record: 5-15
Win #6 - April 28 vs. Chicago. Tim Anderson hit the first pitch of the game for a home run off Eric Skoglund in the second game of a doubleheader, but the Royals charged back with three in the bottom of the first and held on to win a 5-2 contest. Record: 6-20
Win #7 - April 29 vs. Chicago. The Royals won back-to-back games for the first time all season, what is known as a “winning streak.” Brian Flynn blew a one-run lead in the seventh, but a single by Whit Merrifield scored Alcides Escobar in the eighth to give the Royals a win. Record: 7-20
Win #8 - May 1 at Boston. The Royals were two outs away from losing when Alex Gordon tied the game with a home run off closer Craig Kimbrel. Kelvin Herrera blew a save opportunity in the 12th, but Jorge Soler’s three-run home run would be enough in the 13th. Shades of the 2014 Royals, right? Record: 8-21
Win #9 - May 3 vs. Detroit. Jorge Soler (remember his All-Star campaign?), Alex Gordon, and Salvador Perez all went yard in a 10-6 Royals win. Record: 9-22.
Win #10 - May 4 vs. Detroit. Many people were saying the Royals were about to turn the corner when the Royals won two in a row, including this 4-2 win behind six shutout innings by Ian Kennedy. Record: 10-22.
Win #11 - May 6 vs. Detroit. Again, the Royals win 4-2 behind a strong performance from Junis. 22% of all Royals wins this year have come against Detroit, with the Royals going 6-4 against the Tigers. This was the first series win of the year for the Royals, one of just three series wins in the first half. Record: 11-23.
Win #12 - May 8 vs. Baltimore. The Royals have sucked, but the Orioles have tried hard to out-suck them. The Royals slammed four first inning home runs and put up ten runs in opening frame in a 15-7 win. Record: 12-23.
Win #13 - May 11 vs. Cleveland. Salvador Perez’s two-run home run off Andrew Miller capped a six-run comeback in a 10-9 win over the Indians. Record: 13-25.
Win #14 - May 18 vs. New York. A sloppy third inning allowed the Royals to score three runs, including a bases loaded walk to Whit Merrifield from C.C. Sabathia in the 5-2 Royals win. Record: 14-30.
Win #15 - May 22 at St. Louis. Jason Hammel felt at home in the National League, firing seven innings with no earned runs in a 5-1 win. Record: 15-33.
Win #16 - May 23 at St. Louis. The Royals may be the worst team in baseball, but they are kings of Missouri, for now. The Royals won their second series of the year with a 5-2, extra-inning win in St. Louis. Record: 16-33.
Win #17 - May 24 at Texas. The Royals won their third straight, their longest winning streak of the year in an 8-2 win over the Rangers. Record: 17-33.
Win #18 - May 26 at Texas. The Royals jumped on Cole Hamels for five early runs and held on for a 5-3 win. It was the second of Jason Hammel’s two first-half wins. Record: 18-35.
Win #19 - May 29 vs. Minnesota. Alcides Escobar hit a walk-off home run in the 14th to end the long affair in a 2-1 win. Record: 19-36.
Win #20 - May 30 vs. Minnesota. The Royals scored seven early runs off starter Fernando Romero and held on for an 11-8 win. The club closed out May to go 13-15, giving fans the slightest bit of hope. Record: 20-36.
Win #21 - June 2 vs. Oakland. Jorge Soler homered in the bottom of the eighth to break a 4-4 tie. Record: 21-37. Record: 21-37.
Win #22 - June 9 at Oakland. The Royals snap a six-game losing streak behind seven shutout innings and ten strikeouts by Danny Duffy in a 2-0 win. Record: 22-43.
Win #23 - June 22 at Houston. The Royals snap another long losing streak, a nine-game streak, with a 1-0 win in Houston. Again it is Duffy with six shutout innings. The Royals have dropped 15 of 16. Record: 23-52.
Win #24 - June 25 vs. Los Angeles. The Royals can only win by shutout - 26% of their wins come by blanking their opponent. Brad Keller does the blanking this time, with seven scoreless frames in a 2-0 win over the Angels in a makeup game on a Monday afternoon. Record: 24-54.
Win #25 - June 27 at Milwaukee. Maybe it was being around old friend Lorenzo Cain, but the Royals were able to storm back with five runs in the seventh inning in a 5-4 win over the Brew Crew. Record: 25-55.
Win #26 - July 10 at Minnesota. The Royals snap a ten-game losing streak, their longest of the year, with a 9-4 win over the Twins. Record: 26-65.
Win #27 - July 14 at Chicago. Danny Duffy continues his excellence with seven shutout innings in a 5-0 win over the White Sox. The Royals would lose the next day in the first-half finale. Record: 27-67.
So many great memories. What was your favorite win of 2018 so far?