Kansas City Royals: Put Up Or Shut Up Time


Last month, the Kansas City Royals went into a stretch of 20 games when all of the teams they played were above .500. All but three of the games were against teams in either first or second place in their respective divisions; the lone exception being the Yankees. The Royals held steady by going 10-10 and proving they could hang with the big boys. They used that gauntlet of games to catapult themselves into wild card contention by going 19-5 in late July and early August.

Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

This past week, Kansas City lost 5 of their last 7 games and have fallen to 6.5 back in the race for the second wild card spot. Four teams are ahead of them in the battle for those spots, and Kansas City is tied with another, the Yankees. It will be very tough to outplay so many teams for the two wild card playoff berths.

Not all is lost for the Royals. As important a stretch as those 20 games were in July, Kansas City starts a second stretch today that is even more important. They are beginning a stretch of 17 games where 16 of the contests will be against teams with sub .500 records. Eleven of those match-ups are at Kauffman Stadium. The only game not against sub .500 teams is a rain make-up with the Tampa Bay Rays, who lead the wild card pack.

Of the six other teams the Royals face over the next week and a half – the Chicago White Sox, Washington Nationals, Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays, and Seattle Mariners – the Nationals have the best winning percentage, .488, three games below .500. The next best percentage is the Seattle Mariners at .463, 9 games under the break even point.

Aug 11, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals players Alex Gordon (4) , Alcides Escobar (2) and Eric Hosmer (35) celebrate after beating the Boston Red Sox 4-3 at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals must perform well over these two and a half weeks to get themselves back into contention. They cannot go 9-8 and expect to gain any ground. They need to win 12, 13, even 14 of those games to stand any kind of chance. With 6 teams still competing for wild card berths, there is no way winning 9 or 10 of those games will be enough to pick up ground. Remember, the Royals have to significantly outperform at least 5 of those 6 over the course of the remaining season to qualify for the playoffs.

The Royals played even with the big boys in July. Now they have to beat the teams they should beat if they are truly a playoff caliber team. For a team to contend, they must beat the teams below .500. Kansas City stubbed their toe last weak against a weak sister in the Miami Marlins. They cannot afford to do it again.

At the end of this stretch of 17 games, if they should perform well enough to still be relevant, they will enter into an even bigger stretch. After these 17 games, the Royals’ next 12 games are all against the Tigers and the Indians. It would be great for the team and the fan base for these games to actually be meaningful, and not just as spoilers. This is what it is like for a team to be in contention for post season. Every game, every series, counts, and there is little room for errors or slumps. The teams that can’t win the games they are supposed to, or can’t handlle the last season pressures of contending, watch the playoffs at home, on television.

If the Royals want to be seriously considered playoff caliber, now is the time to either put up or shut.


Tampa Bay Rays (71-52, 0 GB)

Oakland Athletics (71-53, 0 GB)

Baltimore Orioles (67-57, 4 GB)

Cleveland Indians (67-58, 4.5 GB)

Kansas City Royals (64-59, 6.5 GB)

New York Yankees (64-59, 6.5 GB)