The Royals were involved in four close games this week (won by two runs or less) and were able to come out on top in two of them. What this translates to me is that the pitching, which was heavily in question since the off-season with the trading of Zack Greinke, Gil Meche retiring and a handful or green bullpen candidates, has been doing their job of keeping the games within reach for the offense to step up and win the game.
However, it has been hit or miss this week when it comes crunch time for the Royals offense. The Royals have stranded 46 runners in the first six games of the week, including twenty in the last two games against Cleveland. The Royals cannot afford to leave a small village of base runners every single night.
It’s not all bad news though for the Royals offense. They have four every day lineup players batting at or over .329 after Friday nights contest. These four players also make up the 3-6 in the lineup, which you would expect your best hitters to be. However, Getz the leadoff hitter needs to ramp it up a notch after this week. He only has two hits this week, which took his average from a mediocre .269 down to .239 after Friday’s contest. As a team the Royals are currently tied for first in the American league in batting average (.269), rank second in on base percentage (.340) and first in stolen bases with 26.
The pitching and defense have both moved up a few slots in terms of performance related stats this week as well. No longer at the bottom or near it, they are in the middle of the pack in the American League. With strong consistent efforts by the likes of Alex Gordon (leads A.L. outfielders in assists) and the rest of the outfield, the defense will continue to progress and get better as the season goes on. The catchers, who are often unsung heroes of the defense, have stepped up very well this month. They have thrown out six runners and only allowed ten stolen bases, which is good enough to be in the top five in both categories.
The Royals have a tough week ahead against the defending American League champions (Rangers) before getting a day off, and facing off against Cleveland again for a three game set. Then they come back home to face the Twins next weekend. A tough stretch of games, but if the Royals can find a way to get some timely hits over the next five or six games, they may be at the top of the division by next weekend.