It’s not just the Royals obsessed fans and blog writers scratching their bewildered heads. This team has played Lazarus several times this season, rising from the dead, and in seemingly miraculous fashion. It seemed miraculously goofy. Now it’s starting to feel real.
I was glad the non waiver trade dead-line passed. I wanted to focus on the team we had, the remaining games, and place my “Can Dayton Moore” campaign on ice. The Royals certainly made that easy over the weekend, sweeping the Giants.
Perhaps a team with great pitching and a line-up depending on singles is always streaky. Maybe they lose in bunches when the hitters are not hot at the same time, and win when they are hot, syncing their rare home runs . Perhaps it’s as simple as that I thought. But perhaps it is something more.
When I asked these questions in conversations over last weekend, I said “yes” with confidence, much more than “no”. This bodes well for the team’s chances for a post season appearance this season, and could promise relevance and contention in seasons to come. Perhaps “the plan” is settling in, just a little later than we all wanted and expected. I decided it was time to believe and to get excited. I decided, this could be the Royals “new normal”.
No, the team’s new normal would not perform at the current, blazing hot clip we have enjoyed. That wouldn’t be possible. But I decided, unequivocally, this team could continue to win series at a 2 out of 3 clip and gain a wild card birth.
Then last night happened. Watch that again. That is what joy looks like. If you are a Royals fan, this is your Dao. Breath into it. Clear that messy mind up and stuff. Nice. Back to the blog post.
My selfish and expensive decision to upgrade for the MLB channel, and the extra innings package was justified as Jarrod Dyson back flipped in the Kauffman Stadium out-field. Dyson understood what last night meant. The Royals had just beaten the best team in baseball, the A’s, again. It felt like a preview of what this team would do in the playoffs. The Royals clawed for runs and used the best bullpen in baseball to shut down the best line up in baseball. Oh, and they had just moved into sole possession of first place in the AL Central, in front of another juiced crowd, that included heart warming, super-fan, Sung Woo.
The question is no longer can they win the Central Division, it is will they win the Central Division?
Yes, if the new look Tigers can’t gel and cope. Yeah, they added David Price, but they lost their best defensive player and one of their hottest bats when center fielder Austin Jackson was traded away. Yes, David Price is the third Cy Young winner in their rotation, but 4th starter, Anibal Sanchez could be lost for the year. Justin Verlander looks so bad, I hope he doesn’t have to go on the DL.
If Verlander’s shoulder puts him on the shelf, the Tigers will be forced to run out a AAA guy or a bullpen arm in his place. Either way, I expect the Tiger bullpen to continue to perform at a putrid pace. Joakim Soria to the rescue? Nope. The pitcher, formally known as the Mexicutioner, is also hurt.
A resounding yes, if Eric Hosmer joins that group who has turned “the maturity corner” when he gets off the DL. Yes, if newly acquired slugger, Josh Willingham, hits a few home runs. ( Great freaking trade, Dayton!)
As crazy and as unexpected as this season has been, some things have not changed. The Royals have great pitching and defense. The Royals need more pop from their line-up to make the post season.
The Royals are getting some of that pop from Butler, Gordon, and Moustakas. They may be getting even more from Eric Hosmer, and Josh Willingham.
It’s August 12th and all of this can really happen. All of it.