It is August 8th. There are 49 games left to go in the regular season. And right now, if the season was to end today, the Kansas City Royals would be back in the playoffs for the first time since 1985.
This has been quite the comeback for the Royals. As recently as July 21st, the Royals were 48-50. A four game losing streak had left them 4.5 games out of the Wild Card and 8 games behind the Detroit Tigers in the Central. The Cleveland Indians, who were sellers at the trade deadline, were actually a game and a half ahead of the Royals. Eric Hosmer had just gotten injured, being hit on the hand by Jon Lester. It seemed as though the bottom may be falling out on the season.
Since that nadir, the Royals have gone 12-3, having won their last five series. They have scored 66 runs, holding their opponents to 44 runs, with 18 of those coming in two games. Players such as Nori Aoki and Billy Butler have begun to heat up, The pitching staff has as steady as it has all season, and the offense is on a hot streak. The Royals are, right now, firing on all cylinders.
Perhaps this is more than just another hot streak. The Royals have gone through one before, using a ten game winning streak to take a game and a half lead in the Central before having the bottom fall out from the middle of June until mid July. Yet, it may be that those struggles after the great winning streak have taught the Royals what it truly takes to win.
It had been quite some time since the Royals found themselves in a real playoff hunt, let alone in an actual playoff position. Even though it had been the middle of June, it may be that the Royals just did not know how to handle success. It truly seems to matter to the Royals players to be the team to end that 29 year playoff drought and to finally play October baseball. Perhaps that thought had been weighing on their minds, even that early in the season.
Now, the Royals may have a better idea as to how to handle success. They may realize how to take the season a game at a time, and to not get ahead of themselves. There is still a lot of baseball left to play, but as it stands, the Royals are in an excellent position.
No matter how the season ends, 2014 has truly been an exciting year for the Royals. Hopefully, that season will get to last through October.
Tags: Kansas City Royals