▪ April 6: Baseball teams play about 1,450 innings per season, and in the fifth inning of the Royals’ 2015 season, the bad blood started. Lorenzo Cain was plunked by a Jeff Samardzija pitch that Cain said was intentional. The Royals won 10-1, but with just 0.003 percent of their season gone, the tone was set.
▪ April 8: Second verse, same as the first. Cain was hit by a pitch and the Royals beat the White Sox, this time 7-5. By the way, an ESPN Sports Science segment showed Cain could jump higher than the standard elephant stands.
▪ April 12: The Royals win 9-2 over the Angels in Anaheim, but Yordano Ventura exits the game early because of a cramp in his right leg. On opening day, Ventura left early because of a thumb cramp. There are calls for Ventura to stay hydrated. Ventura also had words with Mike Trout, which drew scorn from some observers.
▪ April 15: Royals lose 3-1 at Minnesota and Eric Hosmer sagely notes, “The perfect season is gone.”
▪ April 17: Oakland’s Brett Lawrie made a hard slide into second base that caught little of the bag and a lot of Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar. Tempers flared, but there was no altercation …
▪ April 18: Lawrie said he texted Escobar to apologize, but it apparently went to a different Alcides Escobar, because the Royals shortstop never heard from Lawrie. Lawrie, however, heard from Yordano Ventura, who plunked him. The A’s, who won 5-0, called this “bush league.”
▪ April 19: There was one batter hit in the finale to the Royals-A’s three-game set: Lorenzo Cain. Kelvin Herrera threw a 100 mph pitch behind Lawrie and was ejected. Herrera pointed to his head while leaving the field and the nation’s opinion of the Royals, particularly on the West Coast, was not positive. The Royals won 4-2.
▪ April 23: Remember Jeff Samardzija? He was ejected from this day’s Royals-White Sox game even though he didn’t pitch. Chris Sale plunked Mike Moustakas and fisticuffs ensued. Sale even attempted to enter the Royals’ clubhouse later to, uh, discuss his differences. The nation’s opinion of the Royals, particularly in Chicago, was not positive. The Royals won 3-2 in 13 innings.
▪ April 26: Alex Gordon, the four-time Gold Glove winner, dived into the stands down the left-field line at U.S. Cellular Field, reaching the second row to make a great catch. One fan nearby shared the catch on social media. Chicago won 5-3.
▪ May 7: Welcome back, Luke. In his first appearance in 585 days, Luke Hochevar made a triumphant return from Tommy John surgery by pitching a scoreless inning of relief as the Royals beat the Indians 7-4.
▪ May 8: Jason Vargas was placed on the disabled list because of a flexor strain and Mike Moustakas left because of a family emergency and was placed on the bereavement list.
▪ May 13: Catcher Salvador Perez offered a suggestion for a pitch that Yordano Ventura shook off. Ventura’s pitch of choice was then hit out of the park for a home run by Shin-Soo Choo and the Rangers went on to beat the Royals 5-2.
▪ May 23: Mother nature is a Royals fan. Well, for one day, at least. Edinson Volquez pitched the entire game as the Royals won 3-2 when the game called in the bottom of the sixth inning because of rain.
▪ May 25: Jeremy Guthrie matched his jersey No. 11 in his start at Yankee Stadium. But it wasn’t for strikeouts. It was runs allowed in one-plus inning of work. The Yankees hit three homers off Guthrie and put up an eight-spot in the first inning.
▪ May 26: In the first update of All-Star Game voting, five Royals lead at their respective positions, drawing still more scorn from fans across the nation, who have no idea how much worse it will get.
▪ May 29: “Let’s Go Royals” chants were heard for possibly the first time at Wrigley Field. The Royals scored four runs in seven innings against Jake Arrieta, who would go on to be in the Cy Young race in the National League this year. They piled it on against the Cubs’ bullpen and won a potential World Series matchup 8-4.
▪ June 2: Wade Davis gave up a run for the first time this season, but it was the umpires’ fault. The Royals turned a double play in the eighth inning, but Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez was ruled safe at first. A replay challenge upheld the call and the Indians scored the go-ahead run and won 2-1. The next day, Major League Baseball told Royals manager Ned Yost that it had botched the replay.
▪ June 5: On National Doughnut Day, the Royals put up zeros against the Indians’ Chi Chi Gonzalez, who tossed a three-hit shutout.
▪ June 8: Eight Royals are leading at their position for the All-Star Game. Only Houston second baseman Jose Altuve and Angels outfielder Mike Trout are keeping it from being a Royals sweep.
▪ June 10: David Price is stunned that the Royals are dominating the All-Star Game voting, so he tweets out his support for fans to vote for Miguel Cabrera: “please do something about the Allstate voting … not that’s it’s funny but it’s kind of a joke.” We all assumed he meant All-Star voting.
▪ June 12: Yordano Ventura left his start against the Cardinals after allowing two runs in three innings because of “right hand weakness.” He lost feeling in his pinky, ring finger and thumb. Being able to grip a baseball is important for a pitcher. St. Louis won 4-0.
▪ June 16: Since the dawn of the designated hitter, no Royals pitcher had tallied three RBIs in a game. But Chris Young accomplished the feat and tossed seven shutout innings at Milwaukee as the Royals won 7-2.
▪ June 18: Champagne showers are usually reserved for October, but Ned Yost was doused with Dom Perignon following a 3-2 win in Milwaukee after getting his 411th win as the team’s manager, a new club record.
▪ June 26: The Royals traveled to Oakland for the start of a three-game series and there was speculation that the bad blood of April would lead to trouble. Not so, although KC’s Franklin Morales did hit Stephen Vogt with a pitch. The next day Morales called Vogt to check on him (it’s always better to call than text).
▪ June 28: Salvador Perez’s 500th career hit was a home run as the Royals beat the A’s 5-3 and finished the sweep. Alas, the Royals were unable to find the ball to return it to Perez as a keepsake.
▪ June 30: Royals fans are accustomed to seeing Lorenzo Cain track down nearly every fly ball in center field. But during a 4-0 loss at Houston, Cain stumbled as he attempted to catch one while simultaneously summitting Tal’s Hill. “At the end of the day, The Hill won,” Cain quipped.
▪ July 3: A full house on a Friday night at Kauffman Stadium was ready to celebrate. The Royals had rookie Dusty Coleman at third base as a pinch runner with one out in the ninth inning against the Twins. Mike Moustakas lofted a fly to right, and Coleman tagged after the catch before sprinting toward the plate. He stopped about halfway down the line, caught in a rundown. The game went to extra innings and the Royals won 3-2 in 10.
▪ July 5: All-Star voting, a source of angst for baseball fans everywhere but Kansas City, nets a franchise-record four starters for the Royals: Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez. Pitchers Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis are selected for the AL team by All-Star manager Ned Yost.
▪ July 6: Mike Moustakas is put on the bereavement list for a second time to again be with his ailing mother.
▪ July 7: Just a guess, but Paulo Orlando probably wasn’t on many fantasy baseball teams at the start of the season. Royals fans didn’t know a lot about the Brazilian until he began hitting triples in seemingly every at-bat to start the year. In the opener of a doubleheader against the Rays, he did something even better: He hit a walkoff grand slam as the Royals won 9-5. They then took the nightcap 7-1.
▪ July 8: More than 28,000 fans at Kauffman Stadium fell completely silent when after Alex Gordon crumpled to the ground while chasing a fly ball. A groin injury forced him from the game, and in came Jarrod Dyson, who threw out a runner at the plate and hit an inside-the-park homer as the Royals beat Tampa Bay 9-7.
▪ July 9: In a season of great defensive plays, Jarrod Dyson’s no-look, over-the-shoulder catch may have been the best. It came in the first inning against the Rays, and he ended up doubling off a Rays base runner.
▪ July 10: Mike Moustakas wins the fan vote for the All-Star Game and he leaves his mother, at her request, to get to Cincinnati for the Midsummer Classic.
▪ July 12: The Royals led 7-0 after five innings ... and had to rally for an 11-10 win over the Blue Jays at Kauffman Stadium in the final game before the All-Star break. The game was tied at 10 when Paulo Orlando hit a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth and won the wildest game of the year.
▪ July 21: One day after allowing six runs on 10 hits in four innings, Yordano Ventura was optioned to Class AAA Omaha ... but fate intervened. Before heading up I-29, Ventura was told not to go because Jason Vargas left his start against the Pirates early with an arm injury. He would need Tommy John surgery and Ventura’s trip to Nebraska was canceled.
▪ July 22: Gus makes his first appearance in the Royals’ clubhouse. The miniature Australian shepherd belonging to Mike Moustakas is an instant hit among fans.
▪ July 26: After years of watching other teams acquire star players ahead of the trade deadline, the Royals swooped in and made a huge deal, getting Johnny Cueto from the Reds. While rumors of the deal swirled, the Royals pounded Astros ace Dallas Keuchel and won 5-1 behind Yordano Ventura’s solid outing.
▪ July 28: This was the most significant day of the season. In the afternoon, the Royals traded for Oakland infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist, who was coveted by a dozen other teams. Fans uttered nine words that had never been spoken by baseball faithful in KC: The Royals were loading up for a playoff run. That night, they held off Cleveland 2-1 behind an incredible ninth-inning play by Omar Infante and Alcides Escobar, who turned a 4-6-3 putout. After the game, the Royals started dropping the numbers 17 and 38 into interviews. This was based on Lorenzo Cain’s walk-up song, “Trap Queen,” by rapper Fetty Wap and Remy Boyz 1738. Meanwhile, Indians starter Trevor Bauer ripped Royals fans on Twitter. Quite a day, indeed.
▪ July 31: Johnny Cueto made his Royals debut in Toronto, allowing three runs in six innings. Although the Blue Jays won 7-6 in 11 innings, it was a quality start to Cueto’s tenure with the Royals.
▪ Aug. 2: This was the day the Royals-Blue Jays rivalry was born. Toronto won 5-2, but the Blue Jays were incensed that the Royals pitched inside to their batters. Josh Donaldson was hit by one pitch and nearly plunked by another. Afterward, Royals starter Edinson Volquez said Donaldson was “crying like a little baby.” Troy Tulowitzki was also hit, and both benches were warned. When Alcides Escobar was hit, Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez was ejected. And tempers continued to flare even after the teams left the stadium. Yordano Ventura tweeted an unflattering message to Toronto’s Jose Bautista; the next day, Blue Jays announcer Gregg Zaun called out Ventura, telling him to stop running his mouth.
▪ Aug. 8: The Royals beat the White Sox 7-6 at Kauffman Stadium for a 10 1/2-game lead over the Twins in the AL Central, their first double-digit division lead since 1980.
▪ Aug. 10: Welcome to KC, Johnny. In his first start at Kauffman Stadium, Johnny Cueto tosses a four-hit shutout as the Royals beat the Tigers 4-0. It was the stuff of legend, and fans dreamed of Cueto dominating in the postseason.
▪ Aug. 13: The unthinkable happened. The Royals led the Angels 5-1 after seven innings. Game over, right? Well, Wade Davis allowed two runs in the eighth and Greg Holland failed to get an out in the ninth inning, allowing four runs as the Angels won 7-6.
▪ Aug. 16: The Royals made a splash on national television. Playing ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball,” they tied the Angels with a run in the ninth and won it in the 10th on Kendrys Morales’ RBI single to score Ben Zobrist.
▪ Aug. 19: The Royals swept a two-game series in Cincinnati, winning 4-3 and picking up their 73rd game of the season. That’s significant because it was one more than Baseball Prospectus’ projection system predicted for the Royals in 2015. That day, word arrived that Major League Baseball, which had given manager Ned Yost an Apple Watch for being the American League manager at the All-Star Game, told him he couldn’t use it during games. Or at least, he couldn’t use it other than to check the time.
▪ Aug. 23: This time Mike Jirschele waved the runner home in the ninth inning. Unfortunately, Omar Infante was out trying to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park homer in the ninth inning. Not to worry, the Royals still scored four runs and won 8-6 in Boston.
▪ Aug. 28: During a 3-2 Royals win at Tampa Bay, Kendrys Morales crushed a ball in the third inning, and Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier ran back to attempt a home-run-saving catch. Thing is, the ball hit a catwalk above center field and Kiermaier was left hanging on the outfield wall.
▪ Sept. 1: The Star reports Kelvin Herrera and Alex Rios have chickenpox. That is a sentence no one thought they’d read this season.
▪ Sept. 12: Mike Moustakas hit two homers and set a franchise record with nine RBIs as the Royals won 14-6. After the game, a Clydesdale horse born at an Anheuser-Busch barn in Boonville, Mo., was named Moose. Moustakas later says in an interview that his mother had died in August.
▪ Sept. 15: Alex Rios hit a solo home run in Cleveland as the Royals won 2-0. A surprising thing happened as Rios rounded the bases, though: fireworks went off over the Indians’ stadium. The guy in charge of the pyrotechnics later said he felt really, really, really bad about the mistake.
▪ Sept. 17: Omar Infante, who had been relegated to the bench because of his troubles at the plate, broke out with seven RBIs in an 8-4 win at Cleveland. It would have tied the franchise record for most RBIs in a game, but Moose had that big game just a few days earlier.
▪ Sept. 19: The Royals announce that Omar Infante has a strained oblique and could miss the start of the playoffs.
▪ Sept. 22: Ned Yost announces that Wade Davis is the closer for the rest of the season. Davis takes the place of Greg Holland, who was experiencing elbow tightness.
▪ Sept. 24: The Royals beat the Mariners 10-4 and, combined with a Twins loss, clinch the AL Central Division for the first time and win a division for the first time since 1985.