by John Viril—
Right now, the Kansas City Royals entire season is teetering on the brink. I know that many will say I am being melodramatic. That it’s a long season, and they’re 120 games left.
Year after year, fans have watched Kansas City run into an early losing streak that sucks the wind out of the entire season. Last season was the 12-game April losing streak that effectively ended the 2012 season before the first month was over. Every Royals team since 1997 has experienced a 7-game losing streak except the 2003 squad (Kansas City’s last over-.500 season since 1994). To put this in perspective, the New York Yankees have only experienced a 7-game losing streak ONCE since 1995 (2007).
This season was supposed to be different. This season, solid starting pitching was supposed to prevent season-killing losing streaks. Then the Royals lost four consecutive 1-run games. Before the Royals rallied for four runs in the 8th on Tuesday night in their 7-3 victory over Houston, they appeared poised to lose their fifth straight 1-run game. A loss would have been especially devastating because it would ensure the Royals dropped their current series to the pathetic Houston Astros—who are tied with the Miami Marlins for the worst record in baseball at 13-33.
The recent bad play is part of a stretch which has seen Kansas City follow its hopeful 17-10 start with a 4-11 debacle. A loss to the terrible Houston Astros, and the Royals would have been looking at another season killer when you consider the context. The Astros are an organization focused on rebuilding and accumulating minor-league talent. Houston isn’t even TRYING to win. Teams like the Astros exist to help other clubs break out of losing streaks.
For the moment, Kansas City has avoided immediate disaster; but they aren’t out of the woods just yet. At 21-21, Royals manager Ned Yost needs to find a way to turn his team around. If he can’t help the team break out of its funk, the 2013 season will be another crash-and-burn for GM Dayton Moore. After six consecutive losing seasons since taking over in 2006, Moore is unlikely to survive another train wreck.
The primary culprit has been the offense. During the four game losing streak, the team scored 10 total runs—including two consecutive 2-1 defeats to the Oakland A’s. The blunt fact is, with 1B Eric Hosmer hitting a soft .271 and 3B Mike Moustakas looking like he belongs back in AAA, the team needs more talent on offense. Inserting AAA injury replacement OF David Lough and utility player Elliot Johnson into the lineup isn’t going to provide sustainable offensive improvement. Moore needs to bring in outside help.
The sooner Moore can provide such a boost to his team, the more likely they will be to scratch their way into the playoff picture.