It’s almost as if all these Kansas City Royals games are blurring together because they look so similar.
The Royals are now 6-13 in July after Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Texas and under .500 for the first time in 69 games. All that’s giving them any semblance of hope in the American League Central is that Cleveland has suddenly hit the skids, as the deficit is still at eight games.
Kansas City is just 2-4 on its most important homestand of the year, a nine-gamer that concludes on Wednesday. The Royals managed just one win against both Cleveland and Texas, winning the first game in both series before losing the final two.
Into town for the first of three tonight are the Los Angeles Angels, who had been playing well out of the All-Star break until running into the surging Houston Astros, who wiped the floor with them this weekend. The Angels currently are the worst team in the American League West.
The Royals need a sweep, at worst winning two of three before they have to head back out on the road. And we all know their ineptness on the road this year.
The first six games of the homestand were difficult to watch. It was the same over and over — falling behind because of pitchers allowing home runs, trying to get back into the game only to see doubleplays quell the threats and finally, somewhat of a rally late.
There’s a lot of culprits, but right now I put the onus on the offense. It’s been punchless, other than the seven-run burst in the very first game against Cleveland, which I thought might be the firestarter to a streak that might get them back into playoff contention.
But in Game 2 against Cleveland they were bludgeoned before losing a Wednesday afternoon game that reeked of barnyard odor as it was 11-0 early.
In the first Texas game, the Royals received a terrific effort from the reliable (who would ever have used that word before?) Danny Duffy for a 3-1 win, but weren’t competitive on Saturday when Yordano Ventura melted down. Again, the Royals did all their damage late in a 7-4 game that wasn’t nearly that close.
Sunday, the Royals wasted another good effort from Edinson Volquez, as the suddenly slumping Luke Hochevar failed once again by giving up a game-winning homer. The offense slept-walked other than a Kendrys Morales homer.
In a big-market city, the Royals would be getting slaughtered by the fans and media. But this is off-the-beaten-path Kansas City, whose fans are giving the team a mulligan because of back-to-back World Series appearances and last year’s World Championship. Those were a decade's worth of thrills.
You think Alex Gordon would be left alone in New York with the clunker year he’s having? It’s been painful to watch his decline as it’s like he’s become 40 overnight. His bat is slow and he strikes out about every third time.
Ventura’s lack of mental toughness wouldn’t play well in Chicago or Los Angeles. Yet in Kansas City, it’s like “it’s Yordano being Yordano.”
Even Ned Yost is being given a pass because of the recent success. Yost is a players manager and doesn’t want to ruffle feathers. He has faith that his team will play its way out of this lifeless malaise.
Maybe it’s time, though, for Yost to startle his team by chewing some tails behind closed doors. The Royals are comfortable with the success of the last two years and maybe they believe they can live off that for a year or two. They put all their eggs into last year’s basket with the deals for Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist, which produced the championship. The Royals went for it and it worked.
It will be interesting to see what happens between now and Aug. 1, the trade deadline. There’s been a lot of talk of the Royals moving Volquez, Hochevar or Morales in an effort to get prospects in return to replenish the farm system that was stripped by the Cueto and Zobrist deals. GM Dayton Moore has to decide whether his current product, one of baseball’s worst teams in July, can get its act together and run off a streak to get it back into contention.
I don’t see it happening. The Royals haven’t been able to win two in a row, much less a streak of three or more. Too little offense and too sporadic starting pitching.