As Sam Mellinger noted, its seemingly impossible that the Royals could lose ground after winning 14 of 16 games.
By PETE GRATHOFF
The Kansas City Star
(Yeah, it was 13 of 15 when Sam wrote that, but the Royals and Tigers both won Thursday, so the point remains the same.)
But thats what has happened thanks to the red-hot Tigers. The Royals have actually lost a half-game in the standings despite playing .875 ball.
That seemed pretty rare to me, so I asked STATS, Inc., if thats happened before. The answer is yes: once.
In the divisional era (since 1969), the only other team to win 14 of 16 games and drop at least a half a game in the standings was the 2006 Twins. Minnesota won 14 of 16 from June 10 to June 27 and fell a half a game in the standings during that time.
The Twins were 10 1/2 back when they started their streak and fell to 11 games behind the Tigers. Yep, it was Detroit again. In fact, Minnesota was in third place behind the White Sox.
A couple of sidebars to that: The Twins went on to win five more games to make it 19 of 21 and by that point, they had trimmed the lead to nine games.
Also, Minnesota ended up winning the AL Central that season, thanks in large part to the Royals. The Twins won two of three against the Royals in the next-to-last series of the season, but the Royals rallied for a sweep in Detroit and knocked the Tigers from the top of the division.
(It also knocked the Royals out of the first pick in the 2007 draft when the Rays took David Price, but thats in the past.)
The other statistical note that piqued my interest was the Royals streak of winning six straight series. Whens the last time that happened? Again, STATS, Inc., had the answer.
The last time the Royals won six straight series was when they won nine straight in 1991 from July 17-18 to Aug. 13-15. The Royals had turned their fortunes around that year under manager Hal McRae, who took over for John Wathan.
The teams vanquished in that stretch: Orioles, Tigers, Brewers, Blue Jays, Brewers (again), Indians, Red Sox, Indians (again) and Yankees. The stretch ended with a series loss in Boston.
However, the Royals were 39-47 going into the first game of that stretch and when they left New York, they were 60-53.