Did the last-place KC Royals really just do that?

Facing one of the majors' better teams, cellar-dwelling Kansas City put on a good weekend show.
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In the middle of a season packed with disappointment and overflowing with failure, the KC Royals surprised the resilient fans who showed up at Kauffman Stadium this weekend to watch them play one of the game's better teams.

What they did was what they haven't done for far too long—before hitting the road for seven pre-All-Star Break contests, they took two out of three from the Dodgers, a contending team headed in a direction the last-place Royals aren't, and thus won consecutive games, and a series, for the first times since May.

First came the 6-4 victory the Royals scratched out Saturday night after the Dodgers drubbed them 9-3 in Friday's series opener. There followed the 9-1 beatdown with which KC sent Los Angeles packing Sunday.

Just how refreshing was the weekend? Quite. It started badly, though, with Friday's six-run loss, the club's 59th defeat of the year and another punctuated by two hallmarks of this unfortunate season—not enough pitching and not enough timely hitting. The Dodgers scored five times in his four innings to ruin rookie KC starter Alec Marsh's major league debut, then battered reliever Nick Wittgren for four more in the only inning he worked. And despite rapping nine hits, the Royals went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left nine on base.

Fortunately, that's where the ugliness ended.

The KC Royals claimed a rare series win by beating Los Angeles twice

Don't feel embarrassed if you considered Friday's game a harbinger of another series sweep. Their win kept the Dodgers in second place in the National League West and nothing really foretold what would unfold Saturday and Sunday.

But Kansas City, a team whose reputation for squandering early leads this season is well-earned, managed to protect the lead they jumped out to at the earliest stage of Saturday evening's contest: after scoring five runs in the first inning, a frame featuring plenty of bloops but no blasts (three singles, a walk, a hit batsman, two sacrifice flies and a leadoff double produced those runs), the Royals held LA back the rest of the way.

Prominent in the safeguarding of the early lead KC starter Daniel Lynch almost yielded back when he gave the Dodgers a three-run second was Lynch himself. He held the Dodgers scoreless until manager Matt Quatraro handed the game to his bullpen to start the sixth. And the relievers did their collective job—other than the run Taylor Clarke gave up in the eighth, he, Carlos Hernández, and Scott Barlow shut the Dodgers down to give Lynch his second win and Barlow his 10th save.

Lynch's performance followed two straight excellent starts. Not currently scheduled to start against the Twins in the teams' three-game series that starts Monday night in Minnesota, Lynch should face the Guardians next weekend in Cleveland.

Sunday's win was even better. Kansas City took an early lead again with a run in the second, added three in the fourth, broke the game open 7-1 with another three in the fifth, and for good measure scored twice in the sixth. This time it was inconsistent Brady Singer's turn to shine on the mound—after pitching six scoreless innings against Cleveland Tuesday, he let the Dodgers score only once in seven innings before giving way to recent roster returnees Amir Garrett and Collin Snider, who both kept LA off the board.

And as those nine runs prove, Kansas City was potent at the plate. Nicky Lopez drove in four runs and went 2-for-5. Leadoff man Maikel Garcia was 4-for-4 and knocked in a pair of runs; he's now hitting .292. Drew Waters and Kyle Isbel added two hits apiece.

Will Kansas City's rare series sweep trigger better things for a team mired deep in the AL Central cellar? Perhaps, but the short-term road will be rugged. After their three games with the division-leading Twins, the Royals head to Cleveland for four with the second-place Guardians before the All-Star Break begins.

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