• ROYALS TURN AROUND HOMESTAND — What started out as an ego-deflating, potential final nail-in-the-coffin 10-game homestand for the Kansas City Royals concluded Sunday with a team brimming with confidence as it takes to the road for a troika of series with Detroit, Boston and Baltimore.
The Royals slumbered just before the All-Star break by being swept in three games by the Los Angeles Dodgers as their offense didn’t approach tepid status.
They were fortunate to salvage a game with Texas, then lost the first two games to Detroit to fall to 1-4 at the halfway point of the homestand.
But the Royals charged back to win the final two games with the Tigers, then took advantage of the Chicago White Sox having unloaded most of their stars to win all three games for a 6-4 ledger, four of the wins coming in their final at-bat.
The Royals are still right there. They are just 1 1/2 games back of Cleveland and have moved ahead of Minnesota. They’re tied for the second wild-card spot with Tampa Bay. They’re where they want to be considering how poorly they started the season.
The homestand was certainly not lacking for excitement. Royals fans were kept on the edge of their seats throughout and the grit the team showed is why the fan base is so fervent.
It also put off any talk of a firesale as had KC gone 2-8 or 3-7, serious thought would have been given to turning the page to next season.
It’s simple fact the Royals’ offense is going to come and go. They ran the full gamut on the homestand, concluding with nine homers in the final two games.
The bullpen, even with Joakim Soria and Kelvin Herrera causing Royals fans some anxious moments, seems to be coming together.
The defense is arguably baseball’s best.
So the area of focus, the make-or-break aspect of their future, is the starting pitching.
The Royals are doing it with smoke and mirrors. Jason Vargas has come back to earth, Danny Duffy is the guy they can’t seem to score runs for, while Ian Kennedy and Jason Hammel are wildly inconsistent. Travis Wood is the 5-guy for now, but he’s been a bust.
If the Royals are going to do anything at the trade deadline, it’s to find a starting pitcher. Of course everybody is looking for pitching, so if the Royals do make a move it probably will be for a fringe starter.
The Royals are grinding every game and play with a spirit that most other teams can’t approach. Is it enough to make the playoffs? The starting pitching will determine that.
• FAWL ON FIRE — In some of the most brutal weather conditions ever for a local golf tournament as the heat was insufferable, Treg Fawl was firecracker hot.
The reigning McPherson City champion rattled off a whopping 13 birdies this weekend in two days to run away with the first-ever Turkey Creek Open.
Fawl’s phenomenal length off the tee was aided by a hot putter and pinpoint accuracy with his short game.
Fawl was a 12-shot winner, a far cry from the duel he had with Kelly Sorenson in last month’s City. Sorenson again finished second in this tournament.
I played in the event and found it enjoyable. I have thought for years Turkey Creek should have a tournament like this and having 59 players was a good start. I think there will be many more players next year.
• HALI UPSET — The Chiefs open training camp later this week and one of their most respected players made it clear he’s not happy with some of his teammates.
Veteran linebacker Tamba Hali, one of the all-time fan favorites, sounded off last week to The Kansas City Star about the absence of what he called the “team leaders.”
While he didn’t mention names, Eric Berry, Justin Houston and Marcus Peters were clearly those he meant as they bypassed summer workouts.
I, for one, am happy. Hali should be respected for his body of work as a Chief. He’s passionate about his team and is old school, believing players should attend all functions.
This will be a storyline to watch the first week.