Judging the Royals

The Kansas City Royals: Don’t give up on them too soon

Royals closer Kelvin Herrera (left) celebrated with Melky Cabrera after the Royals defeated the Chicago White Sox 5-4 Saturday in Chicago.
Royals closer Kelvin Herrera (left) celebrated with Melky Cabrera after the Royals defeated the Chicago White Sox 5-4 Saturday in Chicago. AP

In the seventh inning of Saturday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox, Royals reliever Scott Alexander gave up a two-run single and the lead; if anyone thought, “Here we go again,” it was understandable.

But in the top of the eighth inning Melky Cabrera hit a two-run homer and gave the lead back to the Royals.

Joakim Soria pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth, Kelvin Herrera did the same in the ninth and the Royals broke their five-game losing streak.

Saturday night’s comeback win should serve as a reminder: It’s a mistake to give up on this team too soon.

Haven’t the Royals earned some loyalty?

On Saturday morning I wrote that the Royals had played some sloppy baseball and their recent losing streak was not entirely due to bad luck. At least a couple readers took what I said and went even further; they said it was time to give up on this team.

I’ve never understood the pride some fans seem to take in being the first to give up.

I assume it’s because those fans expect the worst and, when their team performs poorly, it’s their chance to say they were right.

But all teams, even champions, go through bad times.

The 2014 American League Champion Royals had one five-game losing streak, four four-game losing streaks, were down 7-3 going into the eighth inning of that year’s Wild Card Game and still made it to Game 7 of the World Series.

In 2015 the Royals were facing elimination in the American League Division Series, down 6-2 to the Astros headed into the eighth inning of Game 4, and still came back and won that that game and that series.

In the American League Champion Series against the Blue Jays, the Royals were down 3-0 going into the seventh inning of Game 2 and still came back and won that game and that series.

In Game 1 of the World Series against the Mets the Royals were down 4-3 going into the bottom of the ninth and still came back and won that game.

In Game 4, the Royals were down 3-2 going into the eighth inning and still came back and won that game.

In Game 5, the Royals were down 2-0 going into the ninth inning and still came back and won that game and that series.

None of that means the 2017 Royals will do the same thing, but it does mean the Royals have shown us time and time again that we shouldn’t give up on this team too soon.

The 2017 Royals still have their core players

If you’re thinking this team isn’t the same team that won the World Series, in many ways you’re right.

Look at the list of Royals pitchers that appeared in the 2015 postseason, and the only two pitchers still on the staff are Danny Duffy and Kelvin Herrera. (Jason Vargas and Scott Alexander pitched during the regular season but did not pitch in the postseason.)

But look at the position players who appeared in the 2015 postseason, and the 2017 Royals have the same core: Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez, Alcides Escobar and Drew Butera. The Royals’ manager and coaching staff are still around, and the same goes for much of the Royals’ front office.

That’s an awful lot of guys who own a World Series ring.

During this recent Royals losing a streak, a scout from another team said if the Royals make the postseason they’d be worrisome because it’s a team that’s “battle-tested.”

The Royals have been on the big stage and know what it takes to win once they get there.

Being a fan doesn’t mean you can’t be critical

If you have kids, you understand: Just because you refuse to turn a blind eye to their faults, it doesn’t mean you don’t love them.

You can be critical, but when push comes to shove, you’re still in their corner.

In the Royals’ five-game losing streak, they played sloppy baseball: walks, errors and mental mistakes and their fans don’t have to ignore that.

It’s OK to be critical, but good fans – and good parents – don’t give up and walk away.

On Saturday the Royals won, in part, because they only walked two batters, made no errors and had at least five outstanding plays on defense. The Royals got back to playing good baseball and looked like the team their fans have come to love.

And once again the Royals reminded all of us, that even though they have their problems, giving up on this team too soon is a mistake.

Lee Judge: 816-234-4482, @leejudge8 

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