Since disastrously limping into the All-Star Break, the Royals have quietly played tolerable baseball since. Kansas City heads to the west coast with a 20-17 record since the break, which includes series wins against some pretty good teams.
This seems about what we thought the ceiling would be. We all knew the April version of the Royals wasn’t the real team, but we also had a sneaking suspicion that the May team wasn’t it either.
Tonight, Kansas City will visit the team that is them in an alternate reality. The Mariners sit at 69-58, a full 11-games ahead of their 58-69 Pythagorean W-L record. Since the break, they are 21-15, despite being outscored by six runs. They have been outscored by 56 runs on the season.
This is a team that is dramatically outperforming itself, just like the Royals in April, but unlike the Royals, they haven’t stopped outperforming themselves.
As it stands right now, the Mariners are just 2.5 games out of the 2nd Wild Card, making this a very significant series for a team that hasn’t made the postseason since 2001. They’ll send Yusei Kikuchi to the mound who is coming off maybe his worst start of the season, giving up seven runs and failing to get out of the 3rd inning. He has also given up nine runs in his last 11.0 innings against the Royals.
Kansas City sends Brad Keller to the mind, who is coming off one of his better starts of the season and in the midst of his best stretch of the season, with an ERA of 3.43 across his last seven starts.
Here are your lineups for this evening: