by John Viril—
June is normally the month Kansas City Royals fans give up any hope for the post-season—or even a winning season. By June, any “hot start” has worn away before the reality of not enough talent. At this point in the season, Kansas City Royals fans are accustomed to turning their attention to minor league prospects and potential deadline deals.
Not this season.
For the first time in 10 years, the Kansas City Royals sit at .500 on June 17 after their 2-1 comeback victory over the Cleveland Indians Monday night. Not only did Kansas City reach .500, they also gained sole possession of 2nd place in the Central Division. The Royals are now ½ game ahead of Cleveland and trail Detroit by 5 games. Kansas City also trails the Texas Rangers by 4 games for the second A.L. wild card.
Right now, the Royals are a contender.
Kansas City has pulled their season back from the brink. Their horrendous 8-20 May record made it seem like the team was destined for another lost season. Mired in an 8-game losing streak on June 30, general manager Dayton Moore convinced franchise icon George Brett to take over as hitting coach from the ineffective tandem of George Maloof and Andre David. Kansas City has won 13 of 18 games since.
Whether it is George Brett teaching a young team how to win, DH Billy Butler’s “Hit it a ton” barbecue sauce, or simply talent reaching their proper level, the Royals are poised for their best season since they finished 83-79 in 2003. Kansas City’s 12-4 June surge has been driven by phenomenal pitching. Staff ERA for the month is a minuscule 1.75. The Royals pitchers have surrendered 3 or less earned runs in 14 of their last 15 games.
Pitching and defense has carried an anemic offense. Kansas City hitters posted a sickly .256/.316/.366 line during the current month. The Royals are only scoring a pedestrian 3.875 runs per game.
The Kansas City Royals June performance now has fans thinking of deadline deals—but this time as buyers—to help boost an offense that will probably need help to make it to the post-season.
It’s about time. 28 years has been a long time to wait.