We have just over three weeks left in the MLB regular season, and the Kansas City Royals have found their way atop the AL Central. For fans in KC, this is something that has been a long time coming, and they haven’t been able to make that claim since before the turn of the century. In fact, from 2004 to 2008, the Royals were at the bottom of the AL Central, and it hasn’t been until the last two years that they’ve been able to find their way out of the basement. While there is still plenty of work that needs to be done, the Royals 3-0 win over divisional rival Detroit is a sign that things are headed in the right way.
With such a close margin between the Tigers and Royals in the AL Central, it’s hard to say that Wednesday’s game was considered a must win. However, after losing the first two games to start the series, it’s not too difficult to classify it as such. The Tigers were able to outscore the Royals 13-7 in those first two games, as Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer were able to gain ground on the Royals in the divisional race.
On Wednesday it was a different story, as James Shields was able to pitch a two-hit shutout to get his 14th win on the season. Shields was acquired by the Royals two offseasons ago, and these are exactly the type of games that they need him to come up big in.
The scoring started for the Royals in the 4th inning when Josh Willingham would score on a Salvador Perez single to left. In the same inning, Lorenzo Cain would get a single of his own and Eric Hosmer would come trotting across the plate. The scoring would be limited until the 9th, when Cain would score on an Alcides Escobar sacrifice single to left.
Despite the AL Central lead, the Royals still have just a 67.7% chance of making the playoffs. The Tigers, on the other hand, have a 71.4% chance. Both teams also sit right next to one another in terms of odds to win the World Series, as the Royals are at 10/1 and the Tigers find themselves at 12/1, which is much lower than they were just a few weeks ago. As we enter the home stretch of the MLB season, don’t forget to check back with sportspicks.com for handicap information and insight from the insiders.
The shutout on Wednesday showed just how good this Royals pitching rotation can be when needed. They currently are 9th in the league with a 3.52 ERA, and they have 85 quality starts, which is 8th overall. They are also getting things done on offense, as they have a team batting average of .261, which is good enough for 5th in the league.
The Royals and Tigers will square off in one more series this season, as the two teams will meet for a three game stretch starting on September 19th. The good news for Royals fans is that their next 9 games are at home, starting with three against Boston and three against Chicago, before welcoming Detroit to town. However, they’ll finish the season on a seven game road swing against Cleveland and the White Sox.
With such a long playoff drought, could this be the year that the Royals finally make the postseason? With such a tight race, only one of these teams is going to make it. If the Tigers edge them out, this could be one of the more heartbreaking seasons in Kansas City history, especially to know that they were so close and let it slip away in the end.
As for us fans, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the AL Central, as it’s shaping up to be one of the more interesting races in the entire league.