It is difficult to think of a series in the middle of June as being pivotal in the overall success of the season. After all, the series is just a matter of, in this case, four games in the middle of a 162 game season. Yet, the Royals upcoming series against the Detroit Tigers may be the most important series of the early season.
Until the Royals sweeps of the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox, the Royals were only 6-15 against the American League Central. The Tigers were also a big part of those struggles prior to June, as the Royals head into this series having lost all five games against Detroit this season.
A lot has changed since the last meeting between the Royals and Tigers back on May 4th. The offense was virtually non-existent, as the Royals were in the midst of their struggles to score runs. In fact, during all five games against Detroit, the Royals have scored a grand total of twelve runs. Against a team that features such hitters as Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, that just is not going to be enough.
Now, things may be different. While the Royals are still going to rely heavily upon their pitching and defense, the offense is likely to score more than two to three runs per game at this point. Since Dale Sveum took over as the Royals hitting coach, Kansas City has averaged just over five runs per game. Eric Hosmer has hit three home runs this month, continuing his career power surge once the calender switched over to June. Mike Moustakas has been on a tear over the past week, hitting at a .364/.391/.682 rate with two home runs.
The Royals, who find themselves not only just 1.5 games behind the Tigers, but also in possession of the second Wild Card spot, are a different looking team than they were the last time they faced Detroit. The Royals have won seven in a row, and head into Detroit riding a wave of confidence. It is amazing what two sweeps over divisional opponents can do.
While another sweep would be excellent, as it would put the Royals in the lead in the Central, such an outcome is unlikely. Instead, it is important that the Royals can go from being able to play with the Tigers to winning some of these games. A split in the series, while it would not allow the Royals to gain ground in the standings, would likely go far as the Royals look to continue their recent surge.
It is not often that a series in the middle of June is considered important. However, this four game set against the Detroit Tigers is just that.
Tags: Kansas City Royals