The Royals didn’t play a single inning but gained half a game on Baltimore and jumped ahead of New York in the wild card race.
That’ll work. But there’s work to do.
On Friday, Texas comes to visit Kauffman Stadium for a three game series after splitting their four game set with Tampa Bay. This offers the Royals a chance to go directly after a team in the wild card lead. Texas beat Tampa in the finale 8-2 to keep both tied with 83-69 records and atop the wild card standings.
But just barely.
Cleveland and Houston were tied for most of the game and Chris Perez escaped a bases loaded, one out situation to keep the score at 1-1. Two innings later, the Indians got a single from Matt Carson to score the winning run. Cleveland is half a game behind Texas and Tampa Bay and have a cupcake schedule ahead.
With Baltimore’s loss at Boston, though, the Royals did gain half a game on the Orioles, so they’re just one game behind them now. Baltimore will travel to Tampa Bay for four games. The Yankees lost to Toronto 6-2 and fall behind the Royals by half a game. This leaves the wild card standings looking like this:
- Tampa Bay 83-69 (–)
- Texas 83-69 (–)
- Cleveland 83-70 (0.5 GB)
- Baltimore 81-71 (2 GB)
- Kansas City 80-72 (3GB)
- New York 80-73 (3.5 GB)
At this stage, you’re rooting for Houston to pull off three wins against Cleveland, New York to keep losing to Toronto, and of course, a Royals sweep of Texas. Because the Royals need to jump over teams, I’m inclined to root for Tampa to beat Baltimore three times to put them at 81-74 and put the Royals two games ahead of them (while the Royals then tie Texas’s record at 83-72). They’d both be half a game ahead of Cleveland (if they did end up losing three games to Houston).
That’s probably the best case scenario. I can see how someone might argue that a Tampa/Baltimore split would give Tampa Bay more losses and have a second wild card spot potentially in play. If there were 20 games left, that might be a good situation, but with just 10 left, the Royals need to have the path cleared out for them while they win themselves.
Cleveland takes on Chicago and Minnesota after Houston. Texas faces Houston and the Angels after the Royals series. Kansas City takes on Seattle and the White Sox to finish up. It turns into a six game season at that point in a race to grab the second wild card spot (along with Tampa Bay).
It’s going to take a lot of help and the odds of everything lining up are slim. Every game the rest of the year has to be considered its own playoff game if the Royals are going to pull this off – or even get close.
CoolStandings.com projects that the Royals have a 9.9% chance of securing the wild card. With everything that needs to happen, that even feels too high. The weekend series should provide a clearer picture.