The Royals’ 10-game winning streak in June is beneficial in two ways.
Obviously, there’s the boost in the standings. The Royals briefly took over first place during the run and ended the first half of the season with a winning record (48-46) for the first time since 2003.
But former Baltimore Orioles star Cal Ripken Jr. believes the memory of that success will remain with the team through the second half of the season.
“Once the confidence begins to gain, the team confidence … you believe you can compete with anybody and you’ve proved that you can, you’ve had spurts of it, it’s just a matter of going deep into the second half,” said Ripken, who is a TBS baseball analyst who will work Sunday’s Royals-Red Sox game.
“The Kansas City Royals seem to be a good second-half ball club, now they’re positioned better than in the past and I like their chances.”
Ripken called the Royals a talented, young team. He’s not surprised to hear fans clamoring for a playoff berth.
“I think the expectations have naturally risen,” Ripken said. “I expect them to make a nice playoff run here and play well in the second half.”
Although the Royals are playing in Boston on Sunday, Ripken has a soft spot for Kansas City.
“I always really liked playing in Kansas City,” Ripken said. “The fans didn’t hate you because you were on the other team. They respected the competition and they appreciated good baseball, so I always liked that.”
Ripken, who played in his 2,131st consecutive game on Sept. 6, 1995, breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive-games streak, set the world record in Kansas City the following season.
On June 14, 1996, the Orioles played the Royals and Ripken played in his 2,216th straight game that day.
“The one special moment was celebrating the world consecutive games record when I went past Sachio Kinugasa, who played in 2,215,” Ripken said. “I played in 2,216 that day. I thought Kansas City did a nice job of bringing tribute to Sachio. There are few people you can talk to who have played in over 2,000 games in a row. It was fun, even though I don’t speak Japanese, through his interpreter to talk with him.”
Sunday’s game will be shown on both Fox Sports Kansas City and TBS. Due to broader co-exist rights this season, the Sunday baseball games on TBS will be seen throughout the local markets on select games, including the Royals-Red Sox game.
To reach Pete Grathoff, call 816-234-4330 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/pgrathoff