The Kansas City Royals historic slump has ended. It was more than simply a slump, really. It was more than just a five-game losing streak; more than cold bats. There were so many small pieces to it, it’s impossible to quantify. There are obvious tangible metrics that are easy to point to, but there are other issues that contribute to the definition of this untimely blight.
The Kansas City Royals Historic Slump Comes to an End
The most obvious characteristic of this slump was the complete inability to score runs. The Royals went 45 consecutive innings over a six-game stretch without scoring a run. The last run before the scoreless streak began was Thursday, August 24. It was the second inning. That run was a blast off the bat of Brandon Moss that the outfielders only responded to momentarily before realizing that it was not going to land in the field of play. It gave the Royals an early 2-0 lead. It looked like the Royals were on their way to a series sweep. They would not score again and went on to lose 3-2.
They also would not score a run the following day against the Indians in Cleveland. Or the next day. Or the next or the next. They were swept in three games by the Indians without scoring a single run. In the series, the Royals were outscored 20-0. So they came home to play the Tampa Bay Rays, whom the Royals have dominated in recent years. Surely, the drought would end.
It did not. It continued as if the slump was real. The Royals would only muster two hits and, of course, no runs which extended the scoreless innings streak to 43, a MLB record for the expansion era (1969-current). There have only been 10 teams in the history of MLB that have been shutout in four consecutive games, the last of which was the ’92 Cubs. No MLB team has ever been shutout in five straight games. No MLB team has gone more than 48 innings without scoring a run.
And It Ended
Those were the boundaries that the Royals avoided in the third inning of Tuesday’s game against the Rays. After 45 innings of scoreless baseball, Whit Merrifield ended the streak with a solo home run. In between runs scored for the Royals, they surrendered 35 runs to opponents. Also, Hurricane Harvey made landfall, North Korea launched two missiles, the cost of gas increased $.04 per gallon, and 54,748 babies were born in the US. The Royals were all but been eliminated from the AL Central race and lost precious ground in the crowded Wild Card race.
The streak is over! Whit Merrifield rips a homer. Royals lead 1-0 in the third.
Pitching has not been good during the slump. In the four consecutive shutouts, they gave up 32 runs including two 12-run games. The pitching staff has been peppered with injuries all season. The Royals currently have three pitchers who are classified as starters and three relievers on the DL. Rookies and wayward veterans have been brought in to contribute, but the results have been disappointing.
The Other Distractions
Rumors started floating around social media on Tuesday that were confirmed in a 4:00PM press conference. On Sunday evening, Danny Duffy had been arrested for DUI. Technically, it doesn’t affect day-to-day operations for the Royals, especially since Duffy is one of the guys on the DL. It is merely a distraction to a team that is struggling in an historic way. Additionally, first base coach, Rusty Kuntz, will be delegated to the bench for the remainder of the season. Rusty underwent surgery on his eye recently and his vision is mildly impaired. First base coaches don’t have a WAR stat but Rusty’s positive disposition affects all who come in contact with him.
Streaks, both hot and cold, are a statistical reality of baseball. Timing streaks are the key to success. The Royals will need another substantial streak in the last month of the season if they want to make a run at the postseason. They are lucky to be within three games of the second Wild Card spot while being below .500 this late in the season. Ending a 45 inning scoreless streak allows them to breath for a moment before they enter the final month.
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