It’s been an extremely emotional season for the Kansas City Royals, especially in the second half. Anyone who let out a loud and somber sigh after their embarrassing return from the All-Star break shouldn’t be blamed for feeling hopeless. Astoundingly, even after losing their hottest bat in Eric Hosmer to injury, the Royals now find themselves on the inside of the playoff seed bubble with less than 50 games to play.
Kansas City was a sub-.500 ball club on the 22nd of July. On the 24th, the Detroit Tigers had a seven-game division lead. Since then, Detroit has posted the second-worst record in the AL, and KC has the best. The Tigers also sent three incredibly influential players to the DL during that stretch: Cy Young-caliber starters Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez, and former Royals closer Joakim Soria.
The impact of these injuries on Detroit’s chances will be immediately evident in their upcoming game, when replacement starter Robbie Ray faces off against Vance Worley and the 63-55 Pittsburgh Pirates. The Wild Card-leading Pirates rank in the NL’s top three in runs, hits, walks, RBI, team batting average, on-base percentage and OPS. Worley has a 2.3 ERA through six starts in his rookie season, and Ray has a 4.70 ERA in three 2014 starts.
Forget all those numbers for a second, though. Take Detroit’s injury problems, add an incredibly easy late-August Royals schedule and the three other teams currently within three games of a Wild Card seed, and you have the makings of something special. This is setting up to be the greatest sports spectacle in this city in at least two decades.
Whatever level of emotion you’re at right now — whether you’re fighting back tears at the sight of SungWoo Lee’s jubilation, or you only recently hopped aboard that gloriously battered bandwagon — the drama will only intensify from here.
Catch more KC action this year by grabbing tickets to a game on the Royals schedule in August and September!