As a younger man who ran races, my coaches always told me to run through the finish line – not to the finish line. I could not afford to let up. The same advice can be used when running to first, trying to beat out a ground ball.
Today, this advice is directed at the Royals and the impending All-Star break in 12 days. Just 11 games separate the 4th place team from four days off. The game has more of their attention this year because it’s taking place in their home stadium. Who is the All-Star who will occupy Mitch Maier‘s locker? Will he leave a request for an autograph?
It doesn’t matter right now. What matters is the next 11 games. It’s important for the Royals to keep from getting wrapped up in ticket requests and fishing trips and focus on trying to make a move over the next week and a half.
These – are winnable games.
Four at Minnesota, four at Toronto, and three at Detroit. The end result could mean a third or even second place team with a .500 record at the All-Star break. Something that seemed completely unattainable on May 1st.
Toronto is a misleading last place team in the AL East. While occupying the cellar, they are still above .500 and would be two games behind the first place White Sox in the AL Central. This will be KC’s only trip north of the border this year, but the Blue Jays rolled into Kauffman Stadium in the middle of the horrible month of April. They swept the four game set from the Royals, though all of the games were relatively close. Hopefully these Royals have a chip on their shoulder & are out to avenge the losses that hurt them so badly early in the season.
Detroit is just one rung above the Royals, and is the team that the Royals should be focused on catching next. If the team does well in Minnesota, they’ll have a chance to overtake the Tigers head-to-head. Obviously, this is the fastest way to make up ground. KC has just one win over the Tigers in five game this season, with that win coming in Detroit. Three of the five were decided by one run.
They have to start with the Twins – this is a very important four game series. Last time the Twins were in KC, they took 2 of 3 from the Royals. They split the rain-shortened two game series in Minnesota. That makes the Royals 2 and 3 against the one team behind them in the AL Central. You have to beat the teams you are better than, and while there aren’t that many teams that this rule applies to for the Royals, the Twins are one of them.
However, as I wrote earlier this season, the Royals have had a hard time at Target Field. They can’t fall into the trap of playing to the level of their competition against the Twins. They’ll have to play better than they have recently if they’re going to keep their momentum rolling through the All-Star game, not to the All-Star game.
If the guys can stay focused all the way through their flight home on Sunday, July 8th, they’ll be in a great position to win the race.