Do you guys remember June 4? The Royals were 23-32; they’d lost 22 of their last 28 games, and it felt like every game was an opportunity for someone to twist the knife a little deeper. I had to text my oldest brother off the ledge repeatedly as he vowed to never watch again, cancel the cable, throw the TV out the window, and move to Amish country. It was rough.
So rough, it’s tough to understand how that team is the team we’re seeing right now—the team that went 5-2 this week to bring their record to 33-34, just one game under .500. It is INCREDIBLE! As Royals fans, we’ve dealt with the depths of a slide before, but it’s been a long time since we got to see a team catch fire to rebound from a slide (I think I used eight different metaphors in there). The team hasn’t look as good since the early 1990s as it looked this week, especially in the Rays series. That Royals team is one that deserves to compete for a division title. They also deserve an A for this week.
Some naughty themes for you:
It’s tangy and tasty with a hint of magic
Of course, it’s the Rally Sauce. I’m not a superstitious person; in fact, I think the idea of a bottle of barbeque sauce affecting anything other than the taste of burnt end sandwich is ridiculous. But I do know that if players believe it works that’s why it works. Of course, tangy and tasty are some adjectives that could describe the Royals offense of late. Tangy, in that they’ve got a little more zip to the bats lately—i.e. they’re hitting with more power. Perhaps only a little more, but it’s making a big difference. From June 10 to June 17, the Royals have 13 extra base hits including five home runs. Five home runs in a week isn’t a big deal for most teams, but for the Royals it’s practically a power explosion.
A big part of that spark has come from the two and three holes. Everyone knows that Salvador Perez has been on fire since moving to the three-hole, but this week Eric Hosmer started to show some of the pop that made people giddy in 2011. He absolutely crushed a home run to left center in the first game of the Tampa series, and he also pulled a double down the line this week that really got people’s hopes up. As most of you know, he’s struggled to pull the ball with authority this year. Essentially, he smoked everything he made contact with in the Tampa series, which is a good sign. I’m no hitting coach, but watch his load compared to earlier this season. It’s shorter and more direct, which allows it to be quicker. He’s no longer behind on fastballs; instead, he’s squaring them up. In an earlier post, I noted that either he needed to start that load sooner or make it quicker. It looks like he’s chosen the later.
Add to that a surprising week from the *potent* bat of Elliot Johnson, and that sauce is tasting so, so good.
What might have been
I’m still hung up on this run differential disparity. It’s killing me because I know the Royals need every win they can get. Before the game Sunday, their Pythagorean win-loss was 35-31. That was in contrast to 32-34, which was their actual record at the time (Sorry, baseballreference.com hasn’t updated yet). This is remarkable to me. As a fan, someone who agonizes over the results of games, someone who hurt during that horrific stretch, it’s mind blowing that the Royals have outscored their opponents by so much: 262-245 before Sunday. I’m pretty jazzed about how they’re back to one game under .500. Imagine if they were four or five games over .500.
This is, of course, pretty much entirely thanks to a remarkable effort by a historically good pitching staff.
I don’t have much to say about it, but it’s pretty clear that Lorenzo Cain’s home run with two out and two strikes in the ninth against Detroit may go down as a very important moment in this season. If the Royals find a way to get into the division race, people will point to that moment. If they make it to the playoffs, that moment will be a storyline.
The decision 2013
Many fans and commentators are talking about the upcoming roster move the Royals have to make. Jeff Francoeur or David Lough. Those are the options. I’ve already commented on who I think they should keep (Lough) who I think they will keep (Francoeur) and the lame reasons they will use to justify that decision. In fact, Bob Dutton recently indicated that the front office is leaning Francoeur. But Dutton also notes that the front office won’t make a decision until it has to, meaning Dyson will probably spend his full 20 days rehabbing. This is a bad idea. I know everything seems sunshine and roses right now, but it’s usually a bad thing to keep your best players off the major league roster. When Dyson is healthy, he should be with the team and playing. Every game delayed is a game in which the best players are not playing. A rehab game or two, maybe, but this was an ankle sprain, an injury for which players often pass up rehab assignments. And they hardly ever do lengthy ones for a sprained ankle. What is the logic behind delaying this decision, whatever it may be? They know they aren’t releasing Dyson. If the team is in win-now mode, they need to learn what it means to be in win-now mode. It means playing your best players and trying to … yuh know … win now.
There are so many things I won’t get to in this post (Mike Moustakas’ continuing slump, George Brett exhales as the Royals start scoring, Chino Cadahia has the highest winning percentage of any manager in MLB history). So, if you want to bring up something that I left out, please do so in the comments. I’ll respond. I was the kid in class who always had something to say.