The Kansas City Royals are an undeniably streaky team this year, and they desperately need to use that to get hot and stay relevant until the end of the 2014 season. The next 13 games on the schedule, which wrap up the month of July and the upcoming homestand, represent series with four different teams. None of them are winning clubs, two of them are in last place in their divisions and three of the four are division rivals.
For the record, KC is 6.5 games behind the leaders of both the AL Central and the AL Wild Card. They currently sit one seat away from the postseason and 2.5 games behind the Seattle Mariners, the current holders of the final Wild Card spot. The recently red-hot Toronto Blue Jays are also 2.5 behind Seattle in the Wild Card race, and two other teams are trailing by only 3.5.
The Detroit Tigers have a similarly easy path to the end of the month that includes one glaring exception — three, actually. The Tigers have a three-game series with the Wild Card race-leading Los Angeles Angels to go along with 11 July games against teams without winning records. Maybe fans in KC shouldn’t be worrying about the Tigers because of Detroit’s disappointingly large lead in the division, but holding out hope for a postseason berth that doesn’t involve a one-game playoff is only human.
With all these strong teams fighting for their tickets to October baseball, KC could quickly find themselves as long-shots in the race if they struggle through the following two weeks of relatively easy competition. Nine of KC’s next 13 games are against teams that are six or more games below .500. The only somewhat-relevant opponent in that period are the rival Cleveland Indians, who will play four at The K in the Royals’ third post-All-Star break series. This comes after KC plays three games each against the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox, in that order.
I’m already getting way ahead of myself, though. Let’s just focus, at least for now, on KC’s upcoming series, and enjoy the return of regular season baseball.