Reliever Ryan Madson wasn’t with the Royals throughout their streak of 111 straight victories when leading after seven innings. That doesn’t lessen his appreciation for the feat, which ended with Wednesday’s loss to the Tigers.
“Amazing,” Madson said. “It speaks to the attitude and the mental toughness of the bullpen, and it goes to these hitters.”
The bullpen has ranked with baseball’s best for the past two years, and carried a 2.29 ERA for 2015 into Thursday’s game against the Angels.
The combination of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and closer Greg Holland has been the most effective formula, but many others, like Madson, contributed to the streak.
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“When everybody’s lined up, if you can get through six innings with a lead you feel like you’re going to win that game,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “It’s not even the eighth inning, it’s the sixth inning.”
And, as Madson said, the Royals’ lineup played a role.
“Obviously, not every game was held,” Madson said. “So you give credit to this team and how it scored late. When we gave up late-inning runs, we seemed to answer every time.”
That didn’t happen on Wednesday, when the Royals took a 4-2 lead into the eighth. Starter Edinson Volquez couldn’t hold it. The first four Tigers reached base, and by the time the inning was over, they had scratched out four runs. They were charged to Volquez, but Kelvin Herrera allowed two inherited runners to score. The Tigers scored one more in the ninth off Chris Young.
For the first time since May 5, 2014 against the Padres, the Royals had lost when leading after seven.
According to Royals officials, the 111-game streak is the second-longest in baseball since 1914. The New York Yankees of 1998 and 1999 won 115 straight when leading after seven.
That bullpen included Mariano Rivera and both Yankees teams won the World Series.