August brought some needed stability to the KC Royals
Welcome back to Kings of Kauffman’s recaps of each month of the 2021 KC Royals season. Today we remember August.
Bad May and June performances proved premature any 2021 postseason hopes born of a stellar April. Fortunately, a better July restored confidence that the club could avoid its third 100-plus loss season in four years, and the Royals of August made sure of it.
Kansas City didn’t, of course, claw its way into playoff contention; it was too late for that. The club trailed American League Central leader Chicago by 15 games when July ended, and simply wasn’t good enough to make up such a deficit. But a 14-14 August restored some of the respect the Royals earned with their 15-9 April.
The team seemed stable again. How did it happen?
The KC Royals came so close to sweeping four separate series in August.
Kansas City swept a pair of series in July, taking two of two games from Milwaukee and then three straight against Detroit, with those five wins accounting for most of the club’s longest winning streak (six) of the year. The Royals swept just one series in August, but let three more sweeps slip just out of their grasp.
The lone sweep came Aug. 20-22 at Wrigley Field when KC beat the Cubs 6-2, 4-2 and 9-1. The Royals came from behind to win the first game; Salvador Perez’s solo homer in the sixth broke a 2-2 tie and gave Kansas City the lead it never lost, Brad Keller earned his eighth and final victory of the year, and the bullpen gave up only a hit in the last three innings.
Pitching was the name of the game the next day. Starter Kris Bubic surrendered only one hit and two runs in 6.2 innings and the bullpen again held Chicago scoreless.
The pitching was excellent again in the series finale, although it didn’t need to be—Kansas City scored twice in four straight innings to ensure the Cubs were never really in the game. Carlos Hernandez struck out eight in seven innings and the bullpen blanked Chicago again.
The first near-sweep came early in the month when the Royals won the final two of a three-game road set against the division leading White Sox. Chicago beat KC 7-1 in the opener but the Royals, behind home runs by Perez, Edward Olivares, Michael A. Taylor and Ryan O’Hearn, and the pitching of starter Hernandez and relievers Josh Staumont, Jake Brentz, Domingo Tapia and Ervin Santana, all of whom combined to limit the Sox to four hits, battered the Sox 9-1 in the second contest. Kansas City edged Chicago 3-2 the next night.
The Royals almost swept another division leader later in the month. They took the first three games against Houston at Kauffman Stadium, but the Astros avoided the sweep by scoring three times in the 10th to win the last game 6-3.
And the Mariners treated Kansas City the same way late in the month—the Royals won the first three in Seattle, but the M’s eked out a 4-3 win in the finale.
The sweep and three narrow misses accounted for 11 of the Royals’ 14 August wins.
The KC Royals played their longest game of the season in August, and won it.
The second game of the Seattle series Kansas City came so close to sweeping was the club’s longest of 2021. It went 12 innings and took almost five hours to complete; fortunately, the Royals won 8-7, and Salvador Perez had much to do with the outcome.
Perez had already figured prominently in the series by fueling, with a go-ahead grand slam, the Royals’ five-run sixth inning in the opener. Those five runs turned out to be the difference in Kansas City’s 6-4 win.
Perez found himself in an almost identical situation the next night—with his club down four runs, he came to the plate with the bases loaded in the fourth, just two innings earlier than he had the previous night.
And he delivered. Perez pounded Logan Gilbert’s 1-1 pitch out to center for his second slam in as many games; the blast tied the game, and the Royals won it in the 12th on Olivares’ two-run homer.
A rookie pitcher had his best month of the 2021 season for the KC Royals.
Daniel Lynch’s major league career didn’t start well. Called up in early May for his big league debut, he was forced back to the minors when opponents shelled him for 14 runs over his first three starts. Kansas City summoned him again in July and he improved, posting a 1-1, 1.93 ERA record that month.
His best was yet to come, however. Lynch solidified his place in the Royals’ rotation in August: his five starts resulted in a 3-0, 2.39 month, and he struck out 27 in 26.1 innings.
Other KC Royals also had excellent performances in the month of August.
Lynch wasn’t the only Royal who excelled in August. Perez hit a fourth (12) of his 48 home runs and almost a fourth (28) of his 121 RBIs, Scott Barlow collected nearly half (seven) of his 16 saves, Tapia had a 1.46 ERA in 14 relief appearances, and Carlos Hernandez went 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA.
Kansas City finished 14-14 for August, a second straight .500 month that brought stability to a club desperately needing it.