It’s starting to look more and more like the slumping Kansas City Royals are going to play the West Division champion of the American League in the first round of the playoffs.
The spiraling Royals have spit out only eight victories in their last 24 games, as their once-certain 100-win season is now a mirage. In fact, they have to win out to reach 95.
Raging Toronto has made up a huge deficit to grab the best record in the American League, which might not be all that bad in the bigger picture.
I say that because I believe the New York Yankees will be the winner of the wild-card game against — take your pick — Houston, Los Angeles or Minnesota (or maybe even Texas, though it should win the division). The Yankees thus would play Toronto in a best-of-five and the atmosphere for that series would be off the charts.
I don’t know about you, but a Royals-Yankees series just reeks of doom as the Royals turn to jello everytime they go into Yankee Stadium. How many times have you seen the Royals lead the Yankees when the Bronx Bombers bring out the heavy artillery and slug their way back for a victory? I believe if the Royals are to make the World Series, they have to avoid the Yankees at all costs.
Red flags are springing up everywhere right now for the Royals. They are playing sloppy, disinterested baseball. Even Lorenzo Cain, whose hustle has never been in question, has been daydreaming on the bases with a handful of blunders.
The starting pitching has, for the most part, been awful this month and the offense seems to either erupt or go silent. The Royals have gotten away from what made them so good, taking the ball the other way. Instead, everyone seems to be muscling up trying to hit that 10-run homer. There’s no question the Royals are a better offensive club than the one that took San Francisco down to the final inning of Game 7 of the World Series, but several hitters are lukewarm at this point, not a good trend going into the playoffs.
It will be interesting to see how the AL West plays out. Texas is two-up in the loss column on Houston and Los Angeles. After tonight, Texas hosts LA for four, while Houston plays three at Arizona. And don’t forget Central team Minnesota for the wild card, though it’s the longest of long shots as it basically has to win out.
Don’t count out the Angels. They have been given up for dead the last three weeks, yet they’re still hanging around trying to steal the division. It was all Houston for most of the season, then it appeared Texas had control. It’s like a hot potato and don’t be surprised if we see a tie either for the division or the second wild-card.
I still believe the Royals will be matched with the Rangers, with the Yankees winning the wild card to face Toronto.