The Royals beat the New York Yankees 7-3 on Wednesday night; Yordano Ventura gave the team a quality start, the bullpen provided three scoreless innings and Salvador Perez and Kendrys Morales homered.
The rising panic some Royals fans seem to feel can be put on hold for at least 24 hours.
And I say “some” Royals fans because I know there are fans who have been supporting the team for decades and will continue to support the team come what may, but there are other fans who will push their way to the front of the crowd to cheer a World Series parade and then abandon the team at the first sign of trouble.
The Royals have been in a bad stretch of baseball, losing 11 of the last 15 games. Negative comments about the team are becoming more common. But last September, the 2015 Royals also had a bad stretch and plenty of fans thought the sky was falling. As you might have already heard, that team won a World Series.
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Even good teams have bad stretches.
I’m going into my seventh year of covering the Royals and if you have to watch that much baseball you quickly figure out winning consistently is incredibly hard and going all the way requires some luck. If Carlos Correa had caught that bouncing ball up the middle or Lucas Duda made an accurate throw to home plate, we might have a very different view of the 2015 Royals.
About all a front office can do is field a good team that has a chance to win, and for the past three years that’s what the Royals have been doing; they’ve had three winning seasons, been to the playoffs twice, won two American League championships and a World Series. The Royals also have All-Stars and Gold Glove winners all over the field.
I moved to Kansas City in 1981, became a Royals fan and was sitting behind the third-base dugout when they won the World Series in 1985. After that — like a lot of you — I suffered through years of frustration, but never stopped watching games, even though there were times the team seemed to be putting a shoddy product on the field and making money by cutting payroll.
But that’s no longer the case.
In the bad old days, if a young player showed promise, it was promise that would be fulfilled elsewhere because the team didn’t want to pay top dollar to keep them; these days the Royals have signed some players to long-term contracts in an effort to keep the team together.
So if anyone starts in with that “same-old Royals” stuff, they’re full of it.
I have no idea how this season will turn out; apparently two-fifths of the starting rotation is dealing with arm issues, Mike Moustakas has a fractured thumb and Omar Infante seems to need more days off than a Missouri legislator. The Royals rough stretch has pretty much coincided with playing 13 of 16 games on the road, so maybe they’ll come home and play better — or worse. Who the heck knows?
But whatever happens next — if this is a down year after two of the most exciting years in team history — haven’t the Royals earned our trust?
As promised, I sent a text message to Royals outfield coach Rusty Kuntz and asked if Didi Gregorius’ three-run double Tuesday kicked sideways when it hit the grass. Rusty said yeah, and that’s why Lorenzo Cain missed it.
I’ve also heard complaints that Cain dogged it on a ball hit over his head and I guess my answer is: you mean the same Lorenzo Cain we’ve been watching run into walls for the past three seasons?
I guess it’s possible, but I’m reluctant to jump on somebody until I talk to the people who know. For instance: if Cain is dealing with leg issues — something the Royals wouldn’t want out there — then he doesn’t deserve to be criticized.
Last season people jumped on Jarrod Dyson for not hustling down the line and then we found out he had a leg problem. So if I find out anything about Cain’s situation that can be made public, I’ll make it public.
And so does Wade Davis
Royals closer Wade Davis threw 14 pitches Wednesday night and 10 of them were strikes. Davis got ahead of the first two batters 0-2, then threw a waste pitch for a ball and when neither of them chased the waste pitch, went right back into the strike zone.
Davis was hitting the mitt — until he hit Brett Gardner.
Three Royals had been hit by pitches early in the game so if you have a suspicious nature — and most people do — you might suspect hitting Gardner was no accident. If a pitcher hits someone on purpose the politically correct answer (and the answer that won’t get you fined) is: the pitch got away from me. But when a guy is banging strikes and then misses the catcher’s mitt by two feet, you’ve got a right to wonder.
And if Davis did it on purpose his teammates will appreciate that; even if the Royals getting hit was accidental, hitters want to know that their pitcher will send the other team a message: “Be more careful about pitching inside or some of your guys will get hit, too.”
When I see him on Friday I’ll ask Davis about it, but I can pretty much guarantee you that whatever he says will be off the record.