KC Royals: 2 losing skids doomed playoff chances

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals,
KC Royals, /

Just a week into the new season, the KC Royals began the first of two skids that would severely damage their postseason hopes.

After a week of play in the long-delayed 2020 campaign, the KC Royals were 3-4 after beating Detroit to end a seven-game season-opening road trip. It was early even for a short season, and the Royals weren’t in last place—that distinction belonged to the Chicago White Sox.

All that, though, would soon change. The Sox edged the Royals 3-2 to spoil Kansas City’s home opener; the July 31 loss was the first of six straight that would put the Royals at an early, but not insurmountable, disadvantage.

Chicago did all its damage in the second inning when Adam Engell touched KC rookie Kris Bubic for a three-run homer. An infield error and hit batsman seeded the bases for the Engell blast that spoiled Bubic’s major league debut and gave him his first loss.

Salvador Perez was KC’s bright spot. His three singles provided a glimpse of the excellent season he’d enjoy at the plate.

Aug. 1: White Sox 11, Royals 5.  Chicago didn’t let up after dumping Kansas City into the American League basement the night before. In a game that was over almost as soon as it began, the Sox scored four times in the first inning off newcomer Ronald Bolanos and clipped him for another run in the second. It was Bolanos’ second, and last, start of the season.

The Royals couldn’t muster any offense. They left 12 runners on base and hit 4-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

Aug. 2: White Sox 9, Royals 2.  Greg Holland re-established himself as a premier reliever this season, but was just beginning to find his old form when the ChiSox temporarily derailed his comeback bid. Breaking a 2-2 tie in the seventh, they battered Holland for five of the seven runs they’d score that inning. It proved to be Holland’s worst outing of the year; after an oblique issue forced him to the Injured List and ended his season Friday, Holland finished with a 3-0, 1.19 ERA (245 ERA+) record, almost 10 strikeouts per nine innings, and an 0.953 WHIP.

As was becoming a consistent problem, the Royals were only 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

Aug. 3: Cubs 2, Royals 0.  A complete lack of run support ruined what was then Danny Duffy’s best start of the season—he struck out six and gave up three hits in six innings, but the two runs he surrendered were two more than the Royals could give him. Alec Mills and Chicago’s bullpen held KC to five hits and limited the club to a 1-for-7 RISP night.

Aug. 4: Cubs 5, Royals 4.  The Royals showed a bit of life the next night by scoring two runs in the top of the ninth but still lost their fifth straight. The Cubs scored four of their five runs on home runs: Brady Singer gave up two and Trevor Rosenthal surrendered one.

Aug. 5: Cubs 6, Royals 1.  The Cubs and Royals moved to Kauffman Stadium to continue their home-and-home series. Cub pitching was too much for Kansas City—the Royals managed just four singles and a double and went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

The Royals exploded the next night with a 13-2 victory to avoid a Chicago sweep and end the losing streak at six. But another skid was less than a month away.