Best and Worst: Royals Week In Review

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“If you have one or two good months and play .500 baseball the rest of the way, chances are you’ll make the postseason. That’s how hard it is to win in the major leagues.” said Royals General Manager Dayton Moore. He had been scheduled for a book signing and speech at a business in Olathe that afternoon. While he was mired with questions about the re-signing of Alex Gordon, one of the employees asked him how he felt about the team next year.

Always the optimist, Dayton voiced his excitement for the team’s coming season, with an emphasis on the minor leaguers he believed would contribute in the 2016 season. But he also made a point that winning in baseball is one of the most difficult things to do, and one of the most difficult things to analyze.

The Kansas City Royals (15-15) sit at .500 after one month of games. They have lost four consecutive series, including games such as a 13-2 drubbing by the Washington Nationals and a 7-1 rout by the Cleveland Indians. But the club has not wavered, and the locker room mood is unchanged. After all, these are champions. Let’s take a look at the Royals week in review, and see how the team fared this week by analyzing the best highlights and the worst lowlights.

(Inspired by @HisDirkness)

Best and Worst: Royals Week in Review

Best home run swing: Eric Hosmer’s 449-foot bomb off of Josh Tomlin 5/8/16

Eric Hosmer is seeing a beachball, ladies and gentlemen. The young superstar is maintaining a steady .333 average and an OPS well over .900 a month into the season. This is consistency we haven’t seen from Hosmer, who has been known as a streaky hitter. The home run swing against Tomlin was arguably the model swing for any batter. The legs, the drive, the SOUND. My goodness, Eric.

Worst Injury Management: Mike Moustakas’ fractured thumb

Moose is headed to the 15-day disabled list as the first assignment of the regular season (Jarrod Dyson was sent to the DL in spring training), and his injury could not have come at a worse time for the Royals. Moustakas is the team’s best hitter not named Eric Hosmer, and was on pace to shatter the seemingly unbreakable Balboni franchise single season home-run record. Moustakas was supposedly injured on a tag play during the series in Anaheim ten(!) days ago. Moose saw action with the injury, which caused re-aggravation. It is unknown if the thumb was fractured immediately, but Moose figures to miss at least a month while rehabbing the thumb.

Best line kept moving: Lorenzo Cain hits walk-off single against Jonathan Papelbon 5/3

The Royals did that thing, again. Oh, you don’t know what that thing is? That thing is conjuring up three runs at the end of a game out of seemingly nowhere. The Royals have made tremendous comebacks seem almost elementary, and Tuesday was no different. Jonathan Papelbon was brought in to face the same three hitters that he had retired rather quietly the previous night. An Alex Gordon check-swing became an infield single, Eric Hosmer yelped from the dugout “That’s how it starts!”, and the rest was history.

Lorenzo Cain came up huge to score Mike Moustakas from second on a walk off single. Immediately after the game, Ryan and Rex speculated that this walk-off would be the turning point for the team. It hasn’t reflected in the win column just yet, but Lorenzo Cain is batting .364 through his last six games after a dreadful April, and finally got his first double on Sunday against the Indians.

Worst defensive performance: three first inning errors sink Royals in 13-2 loss to Nationals 5/4

It’s not a secret that the Royals have thrived off of their suffocating defense’s ability to make outstanding plays, but the most important plays in baseball are the routine ones. On Wednesday against the Nationals with Kris Medlen on the mound, the routine plays were not made and the team suffered because of it. An injured Mike Moustakas began the game by booting a routine ground ball to the left-side of the infield. The next batter, Anthony Rendon, grounded to Omar Infante, an infielder who was seeing additional playing time because of his defense. Infante did his best Daniel-Murphy-in-Game-Four impression and gave another extra to Washington.

After Bryce Harper singled in Michael Taylor, Jarrod Dyson misplayed a Daniel Murphy double, clearing the bases and placing Murphy on third. Kris Medlen was not able to recover and the Royals went on to lose a game that they never seemed to be playing in, any way.

Worst #Yosted moment: The bottom of the 5th inning 5/8

It’s been quite a while since the Royals faithful have had reason to complain about their manager, but after the bottom of the 5th inning on Sunday in Cleveland, they finally have one. Edinson Volquez had worked his pitch count up to 100 after 4.1 laborious innings. Lonnie Chisenhall, a left handed batter, waited on deck. Yost motioned for Danny Duffy to warm up. Volquez faced Yan Gomes and induced a fielders choice to put men on the corners with two out.

The Royals still led the Indians, 3-2. Volquez, after not looking particularly sharp all day and having already allowed three baserunners in the game, was allowed to face Chisenhall. Chisenhall laced a two-RBI single into the outfield on Volquez’ 105th pitch of the afternoon. Duffy was then called in to face veteran Marlon Byrd, who greeted the southpaw with an RBI double. And just like that, the Royals trailed 5-3.

The Royals have hit the skids in every major league season, as major league teams are wont to do in a 162-game slog that spans over the course of six months. The team has the resume to show they can bust out of slumps, and this week, despite two blowout losses, the Royals showed movement in the right direction. The team flies to New York for a three-game set with the Yankees before facing the Braves at home this weekend. The Royals need not worry about the standings just yet, but with both Chicago teams sprinting out of the gate, the defending champions will feel the pressure all season to keep pace. This team is still a World Series favorite, but it needs to start playing like one.

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