I don’t normally write blog posts on the weekend. This isn’t a normal weekend.
The Royals dropped the Giants 5-0 on Saturday. James Shields pitched a complete game shutout. Alex Gordon homered. Sung Woo was there. Just another Saturday night at The K.
That’s really all you need to know. This week has been so improbable, I feel at a loss for words. This team has so many flaws; many of them on display during this six game winning streak. Yet for one week, they have consistently overcome those flaws and have won. The Royals have captured 13 of their last 17 and are still, officially, the hottest team in baseball. Flaws be damned.
Shields was brilliant on Saturday. He allowed only two Giant base runners to advance to second base. One on a wild pitch, another on a double. Both times, the runner was stranded. The most pitches he threw in any one inning was 16. He threw 109 pitches total, yet got only four swings and misses. Such is how the Giants offense is rolling these days. Which is really fine with me. A win is a win. They’re all important, but as the calendar advances, they certainly seem to grow in importance. They say baseball is a game without a clock, but the season is certainly finite. There are 162 games. Win enough and you get to the playoffs. April wins mean as much as August wins, but with fewer opportunities available, the August wins come with a little more passion.
As the numbers have grown in this stretch, I find myself thinking of Dayton Moore and his proclamation last summer that his team was capable of winning 15 of 20. I mocked Moore for making such a statement. (Actually, I called for his firing.) And damned if they didn’t rip off 19 wins in 24 games. That was the first time a Royals team got that hot since April of 2003. Seriously, it took the Royals 10 years to get hot enough to win 15 of 20. And now, with 13 wins in their last 17 games, they’re on the cusp of doing it again.
The difference is, this stretch comes when other flawed teams are actually losing (or not winning as much.) So the Royals have been able to push to the front of what really is a mediocre pack and place their grip on the second Wild Card. And now, with the Detroit bullpen doing Detroit bullpen things, the Royals have somehow closed the gap between first and second in the AL Central to a mere 1.5 games. And that’s why this year feels different. Last summer when the Royals got hot, they couldn’t get closer than 6.5 games back of Detroit.
On Saturday, the Royals won their 62nd game of the year. Their record is 62-53. Last year, at a similar point, their record was 62-54. The difference? The standings. Last year at this time, the Royals were 6.5 games behind Detroit in the Central. And they were four games out of the Wild Card. This year, they are in place in the second Wild Card and they are making life extremely uncomfortable for the Detroit Tigers. Funny how that happens.
I can’t wait to see what happens next.