Never has a rainout come at a more opportune time for the Kansas City Royals. After a feel-good series win in New York, the Royals had scored just one run in two games against the surging Detroit Tigers and were set to face Max Scherzer on Sunday. Plain and simple, the Royals were reeling and the weather cut them some much needed slack.
The repreive, however, is very temporary.
A few weeks back, as the Royals were wallowing through an 0-6 road trip to Texas and Cleveland, I noted that the May schedule would probably determine if Kansas City was truly going to contend or not in 2011. Counting the April 29th and 30th games against Minnesota and the June 1st game against the Angels, this 31 game (now 30 with the rainout) stretch looked pretty daunting.
Could the Royals keep their heads above water during this stretch?
Well, nearing the halfway point of this gauntlet, the Royals stand at 8-6 and have lost exactly one-half of a game in the standings. Even with Detroit leapfrogging into second place, Kansas City is still ‘hanging around’. I would settle for ‘hanging around’ in 2011, wouldn’t you?
Let’s take a look at the remainder of the May schedule:
Cleveland – May 16 & 17
Just as most of the baseball world is waiting for Kansas City to fall back to Earth, so too are they waiting for the Indians to do so as well. Courtesy of a 15-4 home record, the Indians are a league best 24-13. Cleveland and Kansas City have almost identical team batting numbers, while the Indians, of course, have a much better team pitching mark (no surprise there). I like the Indians’ team, but there is no way they are playing .649 ball or anything close to that the rest of the way.
Texas – May 18 & 19
I don’t know if any of you have noticed, but Texas is pretty good, likely better than their 21-19 record reflects. The Rangers will be without Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz when they visit Kansas City and have just a 6-10 record on the road. It is a good time to catch Texas, if such a thing actually exists.
St. Louis – May 20, 21 & 22
Cardinals fans kind of annoy me, but not quite as much as the Royals fans who get all upset about Cardinals fans. (Truthfully, is your life effected in any way by some guy in front of you in a different color jersey who thinks your team sucks? Can’t we all just get along or, at least, just shut-up about it?)
Anyway, St. Louis has lost three in a row to fall to 22-19 on the season. They have good starting pitching, a bullpen that has some issues and the best offense in the National League. Currently, the Cardinals lead the NL in runs scored, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging. The way the Royals’ rotation is currently set would have them sending Jeff Francis, Kyle Davies and Vin Mazarro out to face them. Whose stomach just got upset?
A 4-3 homestand would be great, in my opinion, and might be optimistic. However, a weakened Texas lineup helps the situation. It would be extremely helpful if the Royals’ offense came alive against Cleveland and got the team off to a good start.
At Baltimore – May 24, 25 & 26
The Royals have not been world beaters on the road, but taking two of three from New York has to help their confidence. Baltimore has some nice pieces, but is not a team that should scare anyone. They have won their last two to get back to within a game of .500, but play their next four against Boston and New York. It would be nice if the Orioles struggle against Washington prior to the Royals coming in, but no matter what happens, this is a series the Royals should feel they can win.
At Texas – May 27, 28 and 29
The Rangers should be back to full strength by the time Kansas City visits Arlington for a second time. This is a bad ballpark for the Royals to play in and, as mentioned above, Texas is pretty good.
After getting swept at Texas in April, the law of baseball averages almost dictate that Kansas City should win one against the Rangers. If they could so and take two of three from Baltimore, that would be a pretty solid 3-3 road trip. Admittedly, 2-4 is a more likely result, which would be acceptable if Kansas City can go 4-3 on the homestand preceding this trip.
Angels – May 30 & 31, June 1
After losing three of four to Kansas City to start the season, the Angels have gone 21-16 and currently lead the AL West. They have scored 20 runs less than the Royals despite having played two more games, but sport the second best team ERA in the league. The Angels’ bullpen, however, leads the league in walks. It is not as bad as when the Angels came to town the first time, but you have to like Kansas City’s chances if they can get these games into the hands of the respective pens.
I respect the Angels a ton, but this is a series that I expect Kansas City to win two of three. Of course, if the Royals are seven games under .500 by then, my expectations will be lowered.
Overall, the above scenario has the Royals going 4-3 at home, 2-4 on the road and the 2-1 at home, for a record of 8-8 to finish out the month with a 28-27 record. Assuming Cleveland starts to regress and the Tigers stop winning every freaking game they play, that mark would definitely put Kansas City in the ‘hanging around’ category if not right in the middle of contention.
If that scenario puts Kansas City five games back of first with an eight game homestand with Minnesota and Toronto, hopefully with Danny Duffy in the rotation by then, then the hopes for something special this season will continue on.
You can also get additional Royals Authority this morning at the Sports Radio 810 WHB website by clicking here.