Monday, January 21, 2013

I'm All In for 2013 - The 12 Games in April Edition

On June 28, 2012, the Royals beat the Minnesota Twins 4-3. Luis Mendoza pitched eight innings and gave up one run. Jonathan Broxton allowed two to score in the ninth, but held on for the save, proving he was still a quality closer to be revered by all of baseball.

At that point, Kansas City was just four games under .500 in a wide-open American League Central, having gone 32-25 since April 25.

Sadly, the wheels would come off that weekend. Losing a double-header on Saturday and the series finale on Sunday, the team limped through July with a 7-19 record. That .269 winning percentage was WORSE than April, a month in which they lost 12 games in a row.

A crappy September sealed another pitiful record with little sign of improvement, but I think a lot can be traced to the horrific start to the season. Let's dream a little and say that the Royals managed to win the five one-run games during that opening streak. That would have put their record at 47-55 after an awful July.

Of course, eight games under .500 is nothing to brag about, but it's better than 18. And, maybe July isn't so bad if playing .561 baseball for two months hadn't only gotten the team to four games under five hundred at the end of June to begin with.

Just two wins during that losing streak in April is all it would have taken to put the team at .500 after beating Minnesota on July 29.

It isn't a far-fetched proposition. The Royals were only blown out twice in the streak, and in one of those games, they scored 7 runs, losing 13-7 because the same Luis Mendoza hand't figured things out yet. Mendoza had another crap game during the streak, and Luke Hochever and Jonathan Sanchez laid a couple of dumps on the mound, as well.

And, that is why I'm excited for this season. Because Jonathan Sanchez cannot hurt us any more. Luis Mendoza and Luke Hochever are going to fight each other for the fifth starting spot, and the wily Bruce Chen might still have some magic in his left arm to keep both of them out of the rotation, thus keeping them from turning over five-run deficits to the bullpen in the third inning this year.

I generally don't believe in momentum and other kinds of voodoo with baseball, but I do think it weighs on a team collectively when they have a big dent put on their record after the first three weeks of playing. Good teams have the talent to overcome bad luck.

James Shields, Ervin Santana, Jeremy Guthrie and Wade Davis don't have to be Cy Young winners to help the Royals out this year. They just have to be good enough to get a win after a couple of tough losses.

Danny Duffy and Bruce Chen both had a couple of good games during the April losing streak, but it wasn't enough and they needed more firepower to come to the mound the next day.

In 2013, the Royals have it.

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