Aug 23, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost (left) takes pitcher Tim Collins (55) out of the game against the Washington Nationals during the sixth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Washington beat Kansas City 11-10. Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

From Meeting to Meltdown


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.

And then Aaron Crow grooved a 3-1 pitch to Miguel Cabrera and Cabrera, the most dangerous hitter in the game right now, grooved it out to right and gave the Tigers a walkoff win.

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.

Tags: Kansas City Royals

  • jimfetterolf

    Chen needs a fat strike zone. Gio Gonzales also didn’t have it, so I’ld guess the umpire was the most important factor in that game. The good news from the game was that Gordon showed some life and Maxwell is making a case for 4th OF next year. At this point that’s more important than a meaningless win.

  • RBTGT

    Saying that the Royals were in the “playoff mix”, with any level of seriousness attributed to that statement, is debatable enough to make one wonder if the person saying so even has a basic understanding of mathematics.

    Even after the Royals swept the Tigers, or, even before that series at all, it would have taken a miracle finish by the Royals and a fairly epic collapse by at least 3 of the 4 teams in front of them in the Wild Card race and all THAT would have done was get them a shot, and, only, a “shot”.

    The Wild Card teams in the AL are likely to have to have 93 or 94 wins each, at a minimum. After the Royals took two from the Tigers, if 94 or 95 wins was the benchmark, that would have required the Royals to go either 30-11 or 31-10 to get there.

    If you think that such a ridiculous scenario had them in the playoff mix, then you are certifiably nuts. And, THIS math only works if the two teams that ARE currently the wild card teams play at or just above .500 ball. How likely is that? More likely is that the Royals would have to finish with some number even better than 30 or 31 wins out of their final 41 games remaining (after the DH sweep).

    Never mind how laughable the notion is that the Royals could have embarked on what would have been the greatest stretch run in the history of the franchise (with apologies to the 1977 and 1985 teams) with this cast of characters, which is one of the worst hitting teams in the game, led by an equally feeble manager.

    It is laughable how people that ought to know better keep saying that the Royals had/have some sort of shot, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary. If you’re truly objective, then you’ll look at the actual standings and the actual numbers instead of looking with your fan’s heart at them and make factual, and not fantasy-in-your-head based statements about them.

    The Royals have never been any sort of serious player in the playoff hunt this season. EVER. Not only from a performance basis but from a mathematical one as well. One small stretch of good play seems to have turned everyone delusional. Talk about straw grasping.

    • Michael Engel

      A week ago, the Royals were 64-57, five games out of the wild card, half a game behind Cleveland, and one game behind Baltimore. I’d call that in the mix. Not favored, not likely, but in the mix.

      Now? Different story.

      I don’t know why THAT is what you take away from this post, but thank you for the feedback all the same. The kind and civil words warm my soul.

      • jimfetterolf

        It was a nice synopsis of the conventional wisdom in some quarters with a dollop of talk-radio smack. Fake screen name posters tend to be rude, the courage of the anonymous.

  • Larry Devore

    Yost needs to go, the man can’t handle a bullpen. Previous night Shields up 3-0, hits snag 3-2 over 100 pitches. Yost brings Shields back out next inning, first batter homers tie game. Shields threw over 100 pitches, take him out. Royals go on to lose the game.

    Forward to last night, Royals up 6-1 Chen starts to lose it, at 6-3 ,I would have gotten the bullpen going. Nats tie game later that inning, then Yost pulls Chen. Royals go on to lose. Man can’t manage the bullpen. Time for Ned to go.