KC Royals: Two Division Leaders Loom Ahead


There are no true “must-win” games for the KC Royals at this point in the season, but the next two series against the Minnesota Twins and St. Louis Cardinals are as important as they come in June.

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We’re not even a third of the way in to the season, so even the slump Kansas City is currently experiencing should not be a huge concern.

That being said, the Royals lost the AL Central Division by one game last season, finished just one game ahead of Oakland for the rights to host the AL Wild Card game, and only two ahead of Seattle who just missed the playoffs.

So yeah, each game matters.

This week is particularly huge for both the division standings, and for a test of mettle. Two weeks ago the Royals were coming off a series win against the Cardinals and had the best record in baseball. Reliever Kelvin Herrera and the Royals were feeling great.

Since then, the Royals have gone 4-9 and Herrera has tweeted just once.

Kansas City was in first place, but now trails the upstart Twins by one game in the division standings, and if not for an eight-game losing streak for the Detroit Tigers the Royals could be in third place.

Salvador Perez helped the Royals snap out of a funk (and bailed out Hererra) with an eighth-inning, go-ahead home run Sunday in a 4-3 win against Texas. But the offense has still been wretched the past seven games, averaging just two runs per contest.

Jeremy Guthrie’s strong outing yesterday was a good sign, but can the starting pitching improve?

Royals fans sure hope so considering the next seven games are on the road against the Twins and Cardinals.

Minnesota is in a minor slump, splitting its past 10 games, but still has the best record in the AL and only trails the Royals’ next opponent in overall winning percentage.

That is why the bats need to wake up, the pitching needs to improve and the wins have to come.

If the Royals get swept in Minnesota, they will fall four games out and head to St. Louis with only four victories in their previous 16 games. That’s not exactly a confidence booster heading in to a three-game set at Busch Stadium.

However, they already proved they can beat the Cardinals, and if they can take two out of three in Minnesota and tie for the division lead, the momentum will be in their favor at St. Louis.

A four-game hole in June is far from insurmountable, but if Kansas City fails to play well against the Twins, you can bet the question of just how good this team really is will start to find its way in to post-game press conferences.

Every division contest is a two-game swing in the standings, and every win against St. Louis is worth some extra swag in your step.

If the Royals can pull off at least four of their next six, they can start to feel pretty good about themselves.

For baseball’s superstition sake though, let’s just hope they don’t tweet about it.

Projected pitching match-ups for Minnesota and St. Louis

June 8 @ Minnesota — Jason Vargas (4-2, 4.79 ERA) vs. Phil Hughes (4-5, 4.96)

June 9 @ Minnesota — Chris Young (4-2, 2.56) vs. Trevor May (4-3, 4.45)

June 10 @ Minnesota — Edinson Volquez (4-4, 3.26) vs. Kyle Gibson (4-3, 3.00)

June 12 @ St. Louis — Yordano Ventura (3-5, 4.62) vs. Jamie Garcia (1-3, 2.67)

June 13 @ St. Louis — Jeremy Guthrie (4-3, 5.82) vs. Lance Lynn (4-4, 3.07)

June 14 @ St. Louis — Vargas vs. John Lackey (4-3, 2.93)

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