Judging the Royals

Look on the bright side: the Royals are in the American League Central

Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Danny Salazar.
Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Danny Salazar. The Associated Press

On Wednesday, the Royals lost their seventh game in a row and finished out a winless road trip. They’re currently 7-14 and in last place in the American League Central.

But that’s also the good news; the Royals are in the American League Central.

Three AL Central teams — the White Sox, Indians and Tigers — have records of 11-9 and the Twins are 10-11.

There’s an old baseball saying that goes like this: you can’t win a championship in April, but you can sure lose one.

Lose enough games in April while some other team gets hot in April and you might fall so far behind you can never catch them.

Fortunately, that hasn’t happened to the Royals … yet.

No AL Central team has played all that well, so the Royals are currently 4  1/2 games out with 141 left to play. Plenty of time to figure things out and get back in a playoff race.

But the Royals need to figure things out pretty soon.

It’s not all Eric Hosmer’s fault; things aren’t that simple

Back in the days of sailing ships, when things went badly a ship’s crew would sometimes pick a “Jonah.” They would decide that all their bad luck was due to the presence of this jinx and they would do whatever necessary to get rid of him.

These days we’re much more sophisticated — we only do it to ballplayers.

(OK, that sounded pretty good, but I don’t actually know if it still happens on ships; maybe some of those tourists who don’t make it back from a Caribbean cruise were dumped overboard by unhappy crew members. But I do know it still happens to ballplayers, so let’s move forward with this morning’s simile.)

When fans are unhappy they tend to find a scapegoat and early on this year’s scapegoat was second baseman Raul Mondesi.

Mondesi’s last game was on April 20 — he got sent back to Class AAA Omaha — but the Royals haven’t won a game since Mondesi’s departure. So maybe Mondesi wasn’t the Royals only problem.

Without Mondesi to blame many fans turned their attention to Eric Hosmer.

If Hosmer is the leader of the team and one of their main offensive producers, he needed to get hot and things would take off from there.

Well, in his last four games Eric Hosmer has hit .353 and slugged .470, but the Royals still lost all four. Probably because in those four games where he’s hit better, Hosmer has neither scored a run nor driven one in.

Hosmer has certainly failed to produce in some big spots — he’s hit .095 with runners in scoring position — but so have his teammates.

It’s a team game.

A bunch of Royals players need to play better so picking out one guy and saying it’s his fault is rarely going to be correct.

It’s not that simple.

Why Hosmer looked better on Wednesday

I’ve spent a fair amount of time talking about what’s happening when Eric Hosmer fails, but since he went 3-for-5 on Wednesday, let’s talk about what’s happening when Hosmer succeeds.

One of Hosmer’s three hits was a bunt single against a shift, but instead of swinging for the fences Hosmer took what the White Sox were giving him. Swinging for the fences hasn’t been working out so hot; maybe the Royals need to get back to “keep the line moving.”

Hosmer’s worst swing might have been his triple; it looked like his rear end was leaving the premises, but Hosmer still managed to hook a curve to right field.

Two swings produced well-hit balls to the opposite field and that’s a great sign for Hosmer; he kept his head in, waited on the pitch and drove it the other way. His best hit of the day might have been a hard line-drive out Hosmer hit right to left fielder Melky Cabrera.

If he keeps this approach, things should improve for Hosmer, but he can’t do it all by himself.

Friday’s Facebook Live with Rusty Kuntz

This Friday (April 28), the Royals are giving away a Rusty Kuntz bobblehead to fans who bought a theme ticket to that night’s game.

At 3 p.m. this Friday, Rusty and I will do a Facebook Live, so tune in to The Kansas City Star’s Facebook page.

If things go as planned, you’ll get to hear why Rusty calls everyone “player” and like most of Rusty’s stories, it’s a good one.