I’m not sure where it came from or who said it first, but somewhere during the Royals nine game winning streak, someone tossed out a hashtag of #TheHuntForBlueOctober.
The Royals jumped over Cleveland on Monday night to reach second place in the AL Central. They’re four games out of the wild card.
The hunt is on.
It’s been a crazy swing so far. After the All-Star break, the Royals have won 19 of 24 games and 17 of their last 20 (which hasn’t happened since 1980). They’ve been on fire. Defensively, there may not be an equal in the big leagues. The bullpen is among the best – if not THE best. And the offense has been performing well.
It’d be fine to dismiss this as just a swing, but the Royals were good in April. They were good in early May. They were good in June, July. They’re good now.
They’ve dipped Bruce Chen in the fountain of youth (again). They’ve seen resurgences of key players – players who they’d expected to break out in tandem last year and earlier this year. Better late than never. What they’re showing on the field right now is basically the Royals best case scenario. It shows what a team with Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, and Mike Moustakas hitting at the same time is capable of. And recently, Alex Gordon has regained his swing and power.
On June 4, the Royals lost, taking their record down to 23-32. It looked bleak. It was their low point of the year at nine games below .500. Today, they stand at 62-54, eight games over and in the middle of a 39-22 surge. They’re 23-17 in one run games this season, and that counts eight straight in May that they lost by one run. The big names in the offense have been a major part of that:
- Eric Hosmer since June 4 (entering Monday): .321/.358/.520 with 11 homers and 15 doubles
- Billy Butler since June 4: .312/.386/.448 with five homers and 15 doubles (and he added another homer on Monday)
- Mike Moustakas since June 4: .259/.310/.448 with five homers (not great, but given where he’d started…)
Maybe it’s premature. There are still 46 games left in the Royals season. In that 6/4 to 8/12 stretch, the Royals made up one game in the AL Central on Detroit. They still trail in the wild card, and at some point, they’ll cool off. Right? Maybe? Lorenzo Cain is hurt and on the DL. The revolving door at second base has a new face in Jamey Carroll. Justin Maxwell can’t hit like a superhero forever. Mike Moustakas left Monday’s game with calf tightness. Salvador Perez just returned from the disabled list. The season takes its toll.
On Thursday, the Royals take on the Tigers in a five game series. It’s easily going to be the most significant series the Royals have played in at least a decade, and probably even longer than that. I don’t think a sweep – on the road – is in the cards. But at the rate the Royals have been playing, maybe it’s crazy to bet against them right now.
But the hunt is on. I’ve talked about scoreboard watching before and the fates of Oakland, Tampa, Texas, and Baltimore are tied to the Royals fortunes. Step one is to win. The Royals finish their big series in Detroit and come back to Kansas City for seven games. Attendance is going up. TV ratings are up. This town wants a winner and they’re seeing winning baseball.
I’m a fan first and a writer second. I’m sure I’m thinking of a lot of scenarios that you are. What if this happens? What if that happens? It’s the most excited I’ve been to be a Royals fan in ages and I’m relishing it. I want that postseason spot.
Just get in – I know many fans wouldn’t be satisfied with a wild card spot. A guaranteed divisional matchup offers more flexibility and less randomness of a one game setting. But just get in. The Royals have two frontline starters and depth in the rotation. They have a bullpen that can allow them to go with the hot hand when necessary. They have an offense that’s getting better and a defense that doesn’t really have much better to get. Just get in.
Make sure to get to Kauffman Stadium as frequently as possible to cheer on the Royals over the last few weeks of the season. And if you’re located outside Kansas City, check the MLB schedule to see if the boys in blue will be visiting you in August or September.
Tags: Kansas City Royals