It’s August 11th and the Royals are in first place in the American League Central. That’s not a typo.
The Royals won their eighth straight game tonight with a 3-2 victory over the Athletics at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Meanwhile, the Tigers lost 11-6 to the Pirates at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. As a result, the Royals are now a half-game ahead of the Tigers in the division. It’s quite a turnaround when you consider that they were eight games out of first place on July 21. They have gone 16-3 since.
The Royals and Athletics were tied 2-2 tonight before shortstop Alcides Escobar delivered a go-ahead single off Sonny Gray in the seventh inning. Yordano Ventura allowed two runs over six innings before Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland combined for three scoreless innings to lock down the victory. The back end of that bullpen is really something. After making the catch for the final out of the game, center fielder Jarrod Dyson provided the exclamation point by doing a post-victory backflip. Fun times in Kansas City.
The Royals haven’t been to the postseason since 1985. This is the latest they have been in first place in a season since 2003.
Despite dealing with back trouble for five years, Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers recently made his first ever trip to the disabled list. Then he made another trip there. All of it has him contemplating his future. As he tells Bill Plunkett of the OC Register, his baseball future may be a short one if his health doesn’t improve:
“I want to get back this year to help the team and for me to be healthy,” Gonzalez said. “But I’m thinking more long-term about being able to play more years.
“Because if I have to deal with this next year again? That’ll probably be it. My contract will be over, that’ll probably be it. I won’t play any more. If I can heal it and my body feels good? Now I can go out there and do the things I can do. Then I’ll keep playing.”
Backs are one of those things that don’t get better as you get older. At least not without a lot of work and effort and good luck. Gonzalez is 35 now, so he’ll need all of that to keep playing beyond his current deal.
Kyle Schwarber broke into the bigs in 2015 with a big bat. After missing almost all of the last season with an injury, he reemerged as a postseason hero, posting a .971 OPS in the World Series. As 2017 began he was supposed to be one of the key parts of a potent Cubs offense.
Then the baseball games actually started and he has hit a mere .171/.295/.378. Indeed, he has the lowest batting average among qualified MLB hitters in 2017. Given that he has very little if any defensive value, he has been a significant drag on the Cubs, who are just a single game over .500.
The Cubs are also putting Jason Heyward on the disabled list, so the outfield is a bit of a mess these days. Lucky for them, they’re only trailing the Brewers by a game and a half.