April is over. Finally. And already May is bringing good things for the KC Royals.
Monday night, the KC Royals opened the month of May with a 6-1 win over Chicago to end a nine-game skid – its longest since 2012.
A one-game sample is far too small to cause optimism, but players and fans needed something positive to go on. Prior to Monday’s win, the Royals were 0-8 against American League Central opponents. Kansas City’s 69 runs scored this season are, by far, the worst in MLB – every other team has scored at least 91 runs, and the Washington Nationals have gone out of their minds with 170 runs. Prior to Monday’s game, Salvador Perez led the Royals with 12 RBI. To put that into perspective, Washington’s Anthony Rendon had 10 RBI in one game over the weekend.
But there are some reasons to be optimistic. I maintain baseball does not start until the weather warms up for good. Mother Nature is beginning to come around, and so is the KC Royals offense. Twenty-two of Kansas City’s 69 runs this year have come in the last five games. That’s still a low pace at 105 runs through 24 games, but it’s a start.
The offense is the result of some big bats coming around. Jorge Bonifacio has been a big boost to the lineup. His .412 average over the last week leads the team, and he already has two home runs, including a true bomb up the left-field stairs in Monday’s win. When he begins making plays in the outfield, this will be a very dangerous man.
Eric Hosmer got off to an abysmal start. Over the last week, he’s batting .350 with a homer and three RBI. Perez has been decent this year, but he’s also hitting at a .350 clip over the last week with a homer and six RBI.
Even Brandon Moss is heating up – at least as much as Moss can. He has two home runs in the last week. His four hits in that span have upped his average to a sultry .159. Four of his 10 hits this season have been home runs.
Pitching has been hit and miss this season. First, the bullpen struggled, then the starters struggled. As of Tuesday, Kansas City’s 4.06 ERA was right in the middle of the league. Matt Strahm returned in fine form with three strikeouts in nearly three innings of work. He has yet to allow a hit since his latest call up.
Royals fans were shaking their heads when Joakim Soria went off the rails in the April 28 loss to Minnesota. To be fair, Soria had made nine prior appearances without allowing a run, and he pitched a low-leverage inning in Monday’s win without allowing a hit. Even with that bad outing, his 2.31 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 11.2 innings of work is pretty respectable.
I can throw out all the numbers I want, but the one that really matters is games behind in the division. Even with this terrible, terrible start, Kansas City sits just 5.5 games back in the Central. That’s right, those Cleveland Indians who were supposed to dominate the American League Central are only marginally better than .500 at 14-11.
It’s been a funny start to the season. Houston has warmed up to meet expectations, and Baltimore and Washington are cruising along, but a lot of other teams are still trying to find identities. The KC Royals will not be able to erase the 7-16 start. The numbers show Kansas City is starting to get its act together. If the bats finally come around and the pitching staff continues to do its job, there’s no telling what might happen over the next couple of months.