The Kansas City Royals lost to the Detroit Tigers, 2-1, on Thursday, snapping a 10-game winning streak in the process.
As we approach the halfway point of the season, what do we make of this Royals team? On the one hand, they’re 15-5 in their last 20 games. On the other hand, their run differential of plus-18 is solid, but hardly special.
Just how good are they?
“It’s funny because when we went through there I think we got them going,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “They were hovering around .500 – a game below, a game above. I read an article where people were talking about how disappointing the team was, and I looked at their team and I was like, ‘Man, how the heck are they not winning?’ Because they have starting pitching, they have one of the best bullpens you’ve ever seen, they’re athletic on the bases, they catch the ball defensively and they have good young players. The only thing they really weren’t doing was hitting for power, and we kind of remedied that when we went in there, and now they’ve gone on this run.”
Kansas City beat Cleveland 9-5 and 4-1 on June 10-11. The Royals hit three home runs in the two-game series and went from 31-32 to 33-32. They haven’t looked back.
“That’s what happens in our game,” Francona said. “Teams go on runs, and you hope that the good runs are longer than the bad ones. But as good of a run as they’ve gone on, all of a sudden everyone’s going to want to anoint them and forget about Detroit and things like that. That’s not how this game is. It’s a long year. You take nothing away from Kansas City because it’s been a good run, but there’s a lot of baseball left to be played.”
Francona was also asked about instant replay.
“For the most part, I don’t think I’ve had an argument this year,” Francona said. “Maybe strikes and balls from the dugout, things like that. But when you go out, instead now of arguing, what you’re saying is, ‘Hey, I think that’s pretty close. I’m not trying to come out here and slow the game down, but I got to get a look at it.’ And I’d say 98 percent of the time, the umpires are like, ‘Hey, I get it,’ and we’ll talk for a second. The last thing I want to do is slow the game up, but we’re trying to give our replay guy time to look at as many angles or to get the angle he needs to see the play and sometimes that takes a minute or so. But again, the majority – and I mean the big majority – of the time, the umpires have been (really good). They don’t want to get them wrong either. So it’s worked out pretty well.”
“I think it’s good for the game and I think it’ll be better for the game (in the future),” Francona continued. “I think they’re ironing out kinks and they were pretty honest with us right up front saying it wouldn’t be perfect, but they’re trying to make it better.”
Francona also addressed Manny Ramirez, who, at 42, is attempting to make a comeback within the Cubs organization.
“I was surprised – and I think a lot of people were surprised – but it sounds like he’s in a good place,” Francona said. “I haven’t seen Manny in awhile, so my recollections are of three or four years ago. But it sounds like he’s in a pretty good place. And if that’s the case, good for him.”