The Royals entered Saturday as winners of back-to-back series and winners of five of their last six games, perhaps inspired by the little insect known as Rally Mantis. Then the bad news came: Rally Mantis was found dead in his Minneapolis hotel room. Authorities do not suspect foul play.
Mantis or not, Kansas City has been a strong second-half team in recent seasons. In 2013, the Royals were sitting at 41-43 on July 6, then went 45-33 down the stretch to secure the first winning record in a decade.
In 2014, the team went 41-27 in the second half and made it all the way to Game 7 of the World Series. Last season, the Royals posted a 47-34 record over the final 81 games, then turned it on in the playoffs to win the crown.
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Entering Saturday, Kansas City had moved to 56-59 on the back of a three-game win streak. At 6-4 in their last 10 games, the Royals are officially the hottest team in the American League Central. And they need that to continue.
Cleveland ended a skid and has won back-to-back games to maintain a five-game lead in the division. Detroit is still five games ahead of Kansas City, who is 10 games out of first and 6.5 games from a Wild Card spot.
Kansas City’s offense has picked up in the month of August, but much of its success is due to a turnaround on the mound. The Royals hurlers have combined for a 2.97 ERA so far in August, fourth best in the majors. That’s a stark contrast from the 5.27 ERA that was better than just two teams in July.
Next: Starting Pitching Picking Up