Unknowns are keeping Royals rolling

By Steve Sell
June 01, 2016

The Kansas City Royals continue to lose players and win games.

The Royals’ winning streak has reached five behind a robust, frenzied offensive onslaught that has seen them batter the pitching staffs of Chicago and Tampa Bay.

The Royals crushed Tampa Bay 10-5 on Tuesday, though they lost exciting rookie Brett Eibner, who suffered a severe ankle sprain and was carted off the field. When the injury first happened it appeared to perhaps be his Achilles, which would knock him out for the season. But while the ankle sprain may disable him, it won’t end his year.

Eibner is one of the new Royals who have injected energy into a club that was struggling for 40 games around the .500 mark. But they are 9-2 over the last 11, with Eibner, Whit Merrifield and Cheslor Cuthbert providing a spark. If you’d told me at the start of the year those three would be playing integral roles during a KC hot streak, I would have called for an evaluation of faculties.

It’s amazing the Royals are rolling along without the injured Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez. It’s the “next man up mentality” and you wonder how long the spare parts can continue to deliver.

The team doesn’t panic when things are going against it, as the Royals have faith in their lights-out offense to come back from deficits, especially at home. It was less than a month ago the big concern was whether or not the team could score enough runs to win, now it’s scoring them in bushels.

Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer are simply mashing the ball. Cain looked all out of sorts in April and my knee-jerk reaction was that last year was a one-hit wonder and he’d return to the .250 or .260 mark. But he’s quit trying to pull everything and powering the ball to all fields.

Hosmer is finally beginning to come into his own. He’s always been like an unbroken colt and the Royals have been waiting for him to harness his talent. He’s now at .330 and playing like a legitimate MVP candidate as he’s been the team’s best player all year.

The starting pitching is still a sore spot. Dylan Gee gutted through five ineffective, but winning, innings on Tuesday. Ian Kennedy labored the night before, while Yordano Ventura has an ERA around five. Danny Duffy goes tonight and no one knows what he’ll do, as he seems to battle his control and pitch count almost every time out. In his last outing, he was perfect for 5 1/3 innings and then out of the game five batters and five runs into the sixth inning.

As has been the case all year, though, the Royals just need to get through five innings with the lead. Luke Hochevar, Joakim Soria, Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis have maintained their excellence again this year.

The Royals are playing at a high level. Given their starting pitching, there’s still some valleys to come, but right now they are peaking, playing like the best team in the division.