Maybe you’re prone to assuming the worst about the Royals after years of futility before last season’s breakthrough.
And if you are conditioned to expecting more exasperation to be lurking around every corner, you got what you wanted in the fourth inning against the Chicago White Sox on Saturday at Kauffman Stadium.
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That’s when first baseman Eric Hosmer was snagged in a rundown between third and home after a miscommunication with third-base coach Dale Sveum on Alex Gordon’s sinking fly to right for a single.
So the Royals scrounged up just two runs from an inning in which they amassed four hits and two walks. The play looked as if it might curse them after the White Sox tied it in the eighth.
The moment was exactly what can’t be done by a team whose game is based more on fundamental soundness than flash, a team that has to get all little details right.
As it tries to go from learning to crawl in 2013 to full stride now, it still has a fragile margin for error and can’t get away with lapses like that.
And yet the Royals did get away with it on Saturday.
And maybe that’s a message to those inclined to default gloom-and-doom, a reminder that this season is its own entity and doesn’t have to be about the “same old Royals.”
One poor sequence or play doesn’t have to cascade or domino into the next or herald the Apocalypse or be an albatross.
This particular play won’t haunt them because they gritted out a 4-3 win on back-to-back two-out doubles by Gordon and Salvador Perez in the eighth and because Nori Aoki made a fantastic catch to bail out wobbly winner Wade Davis.
Just as they did in the eighth, when Jarrod Dyson was thrown out stealing with Gordon at the plate, the Royals shrugged off a fourth that might have deflated a less-seasoned or resilient group and cobbled together a win.
Just like they did by opening the season with two piercing losses at Detroit then and returning home winning these last two (albeit against lesser pitching).
Maybe two years ago, or maybe even last year when the core still was forming, those kinds of adversities would demoralize and trickle down and flow into the next play or game.
But not now.
Not with a tough-minded team that has gone from hoping to believing but has a ways to go to proving.
“That all comes with experience and guys who have gone through it before negatively, and it makes you learn,” Hosmer said. “When you go through a tough experience you learn from it, and you know what you’ve got to do to not let it happen again.”
So the Royals in fact have a chance to benefit from the groan-inducing play Saturday without having to suffer repercussions from it.
In short, they got away with it and figure to be better off for it.
In fact, manager Ned Yost actually smiled when asked about it after the game. He welcomed the chance to clarify that Sveum had not been gesturing Hosmer home.
“No, no, no, no, no,” Yost said.
Sveum, in his first year with the Royals, had not given the universal windmill sign.
Instead, as Hosmer approached, Sveum was using one arm to point toward the ball and the other to the third-base bag, indicating turn, shuffle and look.
“Well, (Hosmer) didn’t see him pointing (to the base),” Yost said. “All he saw him (doing) was pointing to the ball and he thought to make a break around and head that way. And that’s where the goofup was.”
Hosmer had been in gridlock waiting to see if Gordon’s hit would be caught. Then as he approached third, confirming Yost’s point, he seemed to see only one of Sveum’s hand motions and he thought it was pointing not toward the ball but toward home.
“So I figured the ball got away from somebody, or something like that,” Hosmer said, later adding that going down the line “obviously wasn’t the right thing to do but just a miscommunication
“We talked it over the next inning, and now we all know what that means, and it won’t happen again.”
Or as Yost put it: “These things come up, and they get addressed and they don’t happen again.”
Seems they might want to keep going over this one a time or two, but at any rate they got a mulligan for this one after grinding out the victory.
They really can’t afford to make a habit of such follies, of course, if they expect to make an impact this season. Over time, they’d pay for it.
But they also demonstrated they don’t have to crumple after they stumble, even if some might still expect that, and maybe that’s another sign of changing times.