For the first time in a decade, the Kansas City Royals are making noise in August and threatening to make the AL Central a three-team race for first place.
Following their 4-3 win over the Boston Red Sox on Sunday, the Royals have won 16 of their last 19 games since July 23, the best record in the AL in that span.
Royals Since July 23
It is the first time the Royals have won at least 16 games in a 19-game span since they won 16 of their first 19 games in 2003, but it’s the first time they’ve had a run like this in August or later since 1989.
During this stretch they have gone from 10 games back in the Wild Card standings following a loss on July 22 to 4½ games back in the Wild Card race, leapfrogging the Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees.
The Royals one-run win on Sunday was no fluke for this team, which has won its last 10 games that have been decided by one run, including five during this 16-wins-in-19-games stretch.
According to Elias, that ties the second-longest such streak in team history (record is 11 in 1973), and is the second-longest streak in MLB this season behind the Dodgers (11 games).
What has fueled this recent surge?
The pitching staff has allowed more than three runs just four times in 19 games. Their 2.27 ERA since July 23 is the third-best in the majors behind the Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Dodgers (entering Sunday night’s game).
The bullpen, which tossed three hitless innings on Sunday, has been nearly unhittable the last three weeks. Since July 23, their ERA of 1.21 is behind only the Braves, and they have allowed only one run in 20 innings on this homestand.
Alex Gordon was the sparkplug in Sunday’s win, going 3-for-4 and driving in two runs. All three of his hits on Sunday came on fastballs, marking just the second time this season he’s had three hits off fastballs in a game and the first time since May 15.
James Shields won his first home game since April 30, snapping a streak of nine straight winless home starts during which he posted a 4.70 ERA.
On Sunday he relied on his changeup to get both lefties and righties out. He threw 26 changeups (15 to lefties, 11 to righties) vs the Red Sox, which netted him a season-high-tying nine outs and only two baserunners allowed.
Did you know?
By taking three of four games from the Red Sox, the Royals have now won seven straight series since the All-Star break.
The Elias Sports Bureau notes that it is the team's longest series win streak since 1991, and the fifth-longest streak in team history.