With temperatures in Kansas City that have felt more April than August, the Royals bats have similarly cooled.
It’s never really fair to judge anything in baseball with monthly arbitrary end points, and it’s just as unfair to judge something on a small sample size of just seven games. Still, a trend is a trend and the offense that put up an OPS above .780 in June and July has stumbled in the first week of the month.
Obviously, the main difference between the current month and April are the runs scored. It’s not pleasant to recall, but the April Royals averaged just 2.7 runs per game. The August Royals, while winning just two of seven games, are averaging 4.1 R/G. That’s just a tick below their seasonal average of 4.4 R/G. It’s not all bad news.
While the offense hasn’t been as productive in the last week as they have over the previous couple of months, they still seem capable of hanging a crooked number on the scoreboard. That’s the good news. The bad news is they’ve really only been productive as a lineup in three of their seven games, winning just two. The loss that could have a chilling effect was the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader where Danny Duffy was touched for seven runs in the first two innings and the Royals, despite scoring seven of their own, couldn’t rally for the win. It was the fourth time this season the Royals have plated seven or more runs and didn’t come away with the victory.
That doesn’t seem like that large of a number over the course of the currently played 111 games, but this is where we are at this moment. In a pennant race in August, you begin to realize that every game – even that dumb one against Detroit in May – counts.
The other thing that’s not helping the Royal mood this Tuesday is the fact that somehow the Orioles have joined the postseason hunt. With a 6-2 victory over the Angels, Baltimore has pulled themselves to .500 and now stand 1.5 games back for the second Wild Card. Huh? Say what you will about their staying power, but they’ve won eight of 10 and are part of what we can call the Gang Of Four in the mix for that final playoff spot.
This logjam in the middle of the league just serves to emphasize the point made above that every game of the 162 matters. As the number of games remaining dwindles, if the competition remains this bunched together, there will be more than one team that will be kicking themselves for an opportunity lost. Of course, in baseball, things seem to have a way of balancing themselves out in the end. While the Royals have lost those four games where they scored seven or more runs, they’ve also stolen a couple of wins along the way, including two games by the margin of 1-0. Kind of fun how that works. Although your definition of fun may vary, especially depending on the outcome of the remaining games of this season.
It’s difficult to define Monday’s loss to the Cardinals. Usually, three runs isn’t going to be enough, but the St. Louis offense (and Ian Kennedy’s fourth inning) made doubly sure of that. In the end, the Royals scattered eight hits, three of which went for extra bases, including three home runs. It doesn’t take a PhD in advanced statistics to know what it means when the Royals score three in the game and have three home runs.
Despite the recent offensive struggles and the lack of wins, the Royals are in a decent position. This is worth repeating as long as they’re in pole position for that playoff spot. But the margin for error is getting tighter. August has started out colder than normal, but the heat is coming.