“Our love for each other was stronger than ever, but I preminisced no return of the salad days.” – Raising Arizona
Well, that was fun. Thanks for the ride, but this is where I have the train slow down, in case I want off at the next stop. That stop is in Cleveland, where the KC Royals head after this 3-game series in Baltimore.
Our boys in blue have only eked out three wins in their last 10 games. Although the offense has been like Jekyll and Hyde all season, the crux of the problem is pitching.
Consider this: There are only four teams in all of the majors that have fewer quality starts than the Royals. That might not be such a big deal if the bullpen was rocking. But, for the most part, it has been a mere shell of last year’s lights-out self.
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It isn’t as though the Royals are in jeopardy of losing the Divisional title. But that isn’t what we are playing for in these final weeks of the regular season. The Toronto Blue Jays are just three games back in the race for A.L. home field advantage in the postseason. And the offensive juggernaut of the Jays’ lineup – combined with the Royals pitching woes – means that KC desperately needs that advantage if they hope to do much in the playoffs, much less if they hope to return to the World Series.
I hear the voices of all the Panglossian Pollyannas out there, with their glasses half-full: “We didn’t have ANY advantage last year, and we didn’t lose a single postseason game until we got to the Series.”
I accede this point to the glass-half-fullers: Having the best record in the American League this late in the season proves that the KC Royals didn’t just catch lightning in a bottle in 2014. We have a great team in Kansas City in 2015. But if you think KC can go head-to-head with the Blue Jays without the Power of the K behind them, with its spacious yard and best fan support in the league, I have a cracked and leaky cup I’d like to sell you.
I counter with this: In addition to being good, the 2014 Royals also caught lightning in a bottle, getting charged on all cylinders at just the right time. You can’t just flip that switch two years in a row.
(All that said, if Yordano Ventura and Johnny Cueto can both wrap this Baltimore series up with quality starts and help the team take two of three, I’ll keep chugging along with the sputtering train as it heads to Cleveland.)