Royals

Is this variant of the Royals true blue or something less?

Updated: 2013-05-18T22:24:26Z

By BOB DUTTON

The Kansas City Star

— OK, we’re a day or two early with this. The Royals aren’t quite at the quarter pole in their season. Close enough, though. Sunday’s series finale at this East Bay mausoleum is their 40th game.

All clubs tend to view the 40-game mark — when they are roughly one-quarter of the way through a 162-game schedule — as a viable launch point for in-season assessments.

That doesn’t necessarily mean change or any action is imminent. Discussions often don’t come to a head until just prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Sometimes not even then, but the talk realistically starts now.

So here we are:

The Royals stand at 20-18 entering Saturday night’s game against the Oakland A’s after wasting another fine effort Friday by James Shields in a 2-1 loss in the series opener.

They opened a nine-game trip earlier in the week by winning two of three in Los Angeles, which stopped, at least temporarily, the previous week’s 1-6 slide from mushrooming into something all too familiar.

Recent history suggests the Royals are at a key point in their season.

Only twice in the last decade did the Royals have a winning record after 38 games. They were also 20-18 in 2011 and 2009.

Two years ago, they were also one game into a 3-13 skid. In 2009, they got to 21-18 before entering a 3-15 collapse.

Look further: One year earlier, in 2008, they were treading water at 21-22 before getting no-hit in Boston by Jon Lester, which ushered in a 12-game losing streak. In all three years, they never again sniffed .500.

To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, send email to bdutton@kcstar.com.

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