After Week 7, the Royals are 22-22. With the Detroit Tigers on a hot streak lately, KC is now in second place, three games back. The Minnesota Twins are 3.5 games out.
Game 39: Tuesday, May 19
KC 6, Cleveland 5
At the time, this looked like a game that might get the Royals back on track. As they had pretty much every game the last couple of weeks, the offense looked lost for most of the evening. Royal-killer Cliff Lee looked like his Cy Young-winning self from last season, and the Royals trailed 5-2 going into the 9th. Although Lee had only thrown 101 pitches, and lefties Mike Jacobs and Mark Teahen would be up second and third in the inning, the Indians put in closer Kerry Wood. It didn’t take long for the Royals to light him up: Jacobs homered, Teahen homered, Miguel Olivo walked (bringing his 2009 total to 2), David DeJesus tripled, Willie Bloomquist hit a sacrifice fly. Five hitters, four runs, one thrilling win.
Game 40: Wednesday, May 20
Cleveland 6, KC 5
For a little bit, it looked like history would repeat itself. The Royals blew a 4-2 lead and trailed 6-5 going into the 9th. The Indians brought Wood in again, and he struggled again. This time, it was control that hurt him, and he walked the bases loaded. But Teahen and DeJesus both struck out, and the Royals could not capitalize. I’m looking these numbers up on Sunday afternoon, but I don’t think the Royals have had a bases-loaded situation since then, so the numbers still apply. For the year, with the bases loaded, the Royals are hitting .167/.220/.278. That’s terrible, obviously. It could just be a small sample size (that only covers 41 plate appearances), but I can’t think of a reason why the Royals would do so poorly in that particular situation.
Game 41: Thursday, May 21
Cleveland 8, KC 3
A thoroughly forgettable game, even though Zack Greinke started for the Royals. Unfortunately, a weak offense and an ineffective bullpen let Cleveland leave town with two wins in three games. In fact, in a stretch where the Royals played all three last-place teams in the AL, they only managed a 3-6 record. That could sting later in the season.
Game 42: Friday, May 22
St. Louis 5, KC 0
Let’s see, ineffective offense (five hits, three walks)…check. Crappy bullpen work (two innings, three runs)… check. Loss…check.
Game 43: Saturday, May 23
St. Louis 5, KC 0
Essentially the same game as the night before, this loss put the Royals under .500 for the first time since April 11. After the game, the Royals sent starter Luke Hochevar back to Omaha, although he was at least decent in this start. The Royals will go with a four-man rotation for a couple of weeks.
Game 44: Sunday, May 24
KC 3, St. Louis 2
A solid performance all the way around…well, I suppose the offense could have done a little bit better, but at least they scored runs in this one. Brian Bannister was very good, pitching six innings and only allowing two runs. Apparently the Royals’ pitchers decided they needed to provide the offense as well, since Bannister singled to drive in the Royals’ second run. Actually, a couple of defensive lapses (a bobble by Jose Guillen in right field, a poor throw by Coco Crisp in center field) were partially responsible for the Cardinals’ runs. After those two St. Louis runs tied the game, the Royals got the lead right back on a hustle double by Willie Bloomquist and a single by Mike Jacobs. Solid relief pitching by John Bale, fresh off the disabled list, kept the Royals in the lead. Juan Cruz survived some scary moments in the 9th for the save.
The Week Ahead
Let’s be honest here. The Royals have really stunk for two straight weeks. In fact, since May 7, they’ve lost as many games as they did in the first five weeks of the season. It is a testament to the weakness of the division that they are still really in the race. Which means, if they can figure out a way to get back on track this week, the season may not be over yet. They have six home games against division opponents this week; first up, the team the Royals are chasing, the Detroit Tigers. Next, the Chicago White Sox. This is the time for the Royals to put up or shut up, so to speak, because after this, the Royals have a nine-game road trip against some very good teams.