After their toughest stretch of the season (against the Yankees and Red Sox), the Royals hit the road for an easier slate of games (Blue Jays, Indians, Tigers). The road trip went okay, as they finished 5-5, but it easily could have went excellent as every loss was by one run.
They came back to Kansas City last weekend for a quick three-game series against the Indians and the first game of the series produced the same result: a one-run loss.
Going 5-6 in 11 straight games seems like something the Royals have been doing for the majority of the year. However, having all six losses come down to one run is extremely tough to take for the team and the fans.
Of the Royals’ 83 losses so far this year, 31 of them have been by one run.
They have grown accustomed to building an early lead and losing it, or counting on their offense to make a comeback in the last few innings.
As disheartening as these losses can be, there is light to be shed on the situation.
First off, the Royals’ Runs Scored(RS)-Runs Allowed(RA) Differential is sitting at -53 after 142 games. This isn’t a great number by any means, but it is definitely surprising considering their record is 59-83.
Last year, they were at a -172 RS-RA Differential after 142 games, with a 58-84 record.
This means two things: 1) The 2011 Royals are one game better in the standings than the 2010 Royals and 2) The 2011 Royals are much, much more competitive than the 2010 Royals.
With the plethora of rookies on the current roster, there is no doubt in my mind that the improvement is going to continue into 2012.
This year, the Royals have been experiencing a ton of growing pains. Whether it’s the rookies in the bullpen blowing leads or the rookie hitters going through 0-20 slumps, 2011 has been more of a learning episode than anything.
Next year, look for the bullpen to hold onto more of the one or two run leads. Look for Mike Moustakas to go on a 15-game hitting streak filled with doubles and home runs rather than singles through the hole at 1st and 2nd. Look for Johnny Giavotella to be kept in the game during the 9th inning because he has improved his defense.
One-run losses are very frustrating when they are happening over and over. Nobody likes to lose, especially in that type of fashion.
Improvement has to start somewhere and being closer and more competitive in individual games is a great start.
As hard as these losses are to swallow this year, just know that they are actually stepping stones into much greater success in 2012.