Just a week ago, the Royals were in the playoff mix. They’d just taken two games in one day against the division-leading Tigers.
That Saturday, they battled. From down 3-0 to 3-2, then tied at 3-3. Then they rebounded from another deficit and the score was tied at 4-4. In the seventh inning, the Tigers took a 5-4 lead but still, the Royals scraped together another run to tie it again.
The Royals haven’t won since. They lost on Sunday. They got swept by the White Sox, the second-worst team in the AL. They scored a total of eight runs in the four games after the walkoff loss. As a result, the Royals found themselves fading fast.
The natural thing to do was to call a team meeting. Nobody would really discuss the content of the closed-door meeting afterword, but Ned Yost did offer that the team needed to produce now. After eight runs in four games, that probably didn’t need to be said, but he said it anyhow. The quote “winners win, losers meet” comes to mind.
The thing is…it worked.
The Royals came out and scored three runs in the first inning and added another three in the second for a 6-0 lead. With Bruce Chen on the mound, that’s all they needed. Chen’s been great this year. Except sometimes a pitcher has a bad night, and Chen is a pitcher that often either has it or doesn’t. On Friday, he didn’t have it. Neither did the bullpen. Washington made up the deficit and then some. Despite the Royals scoring ten runs – more than they had in their last four games – they lost.
It’s the kind of loss that could send a team on a long losing skid except, well, the Royals are already going down that road. They fought and had the winning run at the plate, but it was too little, too late.
It’s the kind of loss that acts as a microcosm of the whole season. Start out hot, get beat up in the middle, but bounce back and make it interesting late.
Tonight, they fell short. This season, it appears, they will also fall short. It’s going to take more than just a team meeting next time.