For the first two and a half weeks of the season, the Royals seemed to have found the path towards becoming a successful ball club in the 2011 season. However, in the last week though, they seemed to have lost their way. Lack of offensive production and quality innings out of the starting rotation took the Royals from several games above .500 and a half game out of first down to below .500 and 4.5 games out of first place.
It is not all bad news from this past week; a few individuals are setting both personal and league records with their bats. Alex Gordon’s hitting streak ended at 19 games but saw his fellow teammate, Jeff Francoeur, keep his streak alive. This dynamic hitting duo has done something only one other pair of teammates has done since 1900 in the month of April. Both of them had streaks of more than fifteen games, and only Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez can claim to have also completed this feat (They did so in 2007). That is some good company to be in my friend.
Three every day players are hitting at .315 or above but unfortunately, you cannot send those three up to the plate every inning. The Royals have moved up to third in terms of team batting average going into Friday night’s contest but the poor pitching has left them near the bottom of the food chain (Soria did not have a save opportunity all week). The defense has continued to improve and only made one error during this horrendous road trip.
Another come from behind win late in the game on Friday night against the Twins and the Royals are back on the winning track. Despite the nearly week-long skid, the coaching staff does not want to make any drastic changes to the current roster at this time because they have already experienced more success than most anticipated this early in the season.
If the Royals continue to follow the method of winning baseball (solid pitching and defense combined with timely hitting), they will continue to turn heads in May just as they have in April. Will they be in contention come September? Nothing is for sure in this crazy game, but why not the Royals? The past few seasons the team that has won the division has finished just a handful of games above .500 and the Royals are a team that is capable of playing at that level.
However, in order to be a .500 or better team you have to win division games and series. You also have to be able to play on the road and the first significant road test of the year, the Royals failed. The good news is that the Royals will not be road tested until after Mother’s Day, but when they do go on the road, it will be against a perennial post-season team in the New York Yankees. However, they will have a chance to build some momentum at home against the Twins, Orioles and Athletics.
A solid start by both individuals and a young, enthusiastic ball club is just what Royals fans have been looking for.