Two unfortunate stretches contributed heavily to the KC Royals’ lost 2020 playoff chances.
The good news, after Kansas City’s victory over Detroit Friday night, is that the Royals can only lose two games in a row before the season ends Sunday. The bad news, of course, is that their two longest losing streaks, the six-game skid that started July 31 and the seven-gamer that began Sept. 1, destroyed any hopes Kansas City had of playing in October. That those streaks occurred in a short season when even inferior teams could legitimately compete for extra playoff spots made them even more distasteful.
The first streak started with the KC Royals just two games out of first and tied for a Wild Card spot; it ended with them 7.5 games behind the league lead and 3.5 behind in the Wild Card. The second streak started on the first day of the campaign’s final month when the club was eight games out of first, but a manageable five games behind in the Wild Card fight.
The last skid finished the Royals off–after the seventh loss, the club found itself 12.5 games out of first and 7.5 behind in the Wild Card with slightly less than three weeks to play.
That Kansas City played badly on the road (11-19) and hasn’t dominated at home (the club was 14-14 at Kauffman Stadium after Friday’s win) certainly contributed to the club’s missed opportunity this season. But losing six in a row and seven straight a month later probably hurt the Royals more.
Some uncharacteristically poor pitching (for 2020), including the worst performances of the year for Duffy and Holland, some shaky starts by Bubic and Singer, and bad outings by Matt Harvey, took its toll. So did the inconsistent offense that’s plagued the Royals all season—they averaged 2.33 runs per game and hit .224 with runners in scoring position during the first streak, then averaged 2.57 runs and had a .195 RISP in the second.
The reasons the club lost itself in two damaging losing streaks, the impact of their length magnified by the short season, are easy to see. The result is hard to take.
Losing streaks are a fact of baseball life. But in this short season, they hurt more than usual.