The Royals aren't sunk (yet)
The Kansas City Star
The Royals lost a series to one of the worst teams in recent baseball history because the following things happened last night:
Chris Getz, in the lineup and leading off in part because he does the little things so well, got picked off first in a one-run game in the eighth inning.
Jeff Francoeur, in the lineup and playing right field mostly because of defense, had a ball go over his head that scored an insurance run for the Astros.
James Shields pitched another masterful game, and the Royals ran their record to 1-6 when Shields gives up two or fewer runs. That’s the stat of the year for the Royals so far.
The Royals managed one run against a pitcher who entered with a 6.63 ERA.
The Astros won their fourth series in 15 tries.
There is a lot of apocalyptic talk from fans, and it all comes from an honest place. The Royals have taken their fans down this path many times before, a free-fall that either turns hope into hopelessness or twists the knife of suck a little bit more.
I’m more optimistic than most, but I’m also not going to call the pessimists Chicken Littles because this season is so far following the 2009 script almost exactly. Watch:
After 10 games, both teams were 6-4. After 15 games, both were 8-7.
The 2009 team’s high-water mark was 18-11, on May 7. This year’s high-water mark was 17-10, on May 5.
After those high-water marks, both teams lost 11 of their next 14, then won game No. 15, then lost game No. 16.
For this year’s team, game No. 17 is tonight, and I’m not going to tell you that the Royals will go ahead and finish up a 65-97 season that a longtime club employee will call the most disappointing in franchise history while I help make James Shields’ Cy Young case by pointing out he is contractually prohibited from pitching against the Royals but, you know, if all those things happen we know exactly what it’ll look like.
In other words, the Royals are not buried. They are not sunk. Ned Yost is not going to be fired soon (any more than he was getting a contract extension at 17-10).
But they are at a crossroads now. This is the point where they can suck it up and start to live up to their best image of themselves, or continue to scuffle and live down to others’ worst assumptions.