Aug 9, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Greg Holland (56) is congratulated by catcher George Kottaras (26) at the end of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals won 9-6. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
It’s not that the Kansas City Royals are in a position to challenge the Detroit Tigers for the AL Central crown, but they (i.e. the Royals) have been playing incredible baseball of late and now find themselves in the running for the second spot in the division, and possibly a Wild Card berth. They’re now seven games above the .500 mark and playing incredible baseball.
Kansas City hasn’t gained any ground on the Tigers over the past two weeks or so — thanks to the Tigers’ 12-game winning streak — but they’ve won 16 of their last 20 games entering Saturday. Just five days ago it looked like the Cleveland Indians had the inside track on the second AL Wild Card spot, but they now find themselves sitting just a half game in front of the Royals.
The Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics are tied atop the AL West (and for the second Wild Card). The Central Division runner up will be competing with the West runner up (and the Baltimore Orioles) for the final playoff spot. As a Tigers fan, I would like to see the rest of the division compete favorably with the rest of the league, and would to see a second team from the Central make the playoffs. We all had a bit of a chuckle when the Royals refused to sell at the trade deadline, but they have a chance to make things interesting down the stretch. They’re a city starving for any sort of baseball success, and even a push toward the playoffs will probably leave their fan base with a positive feeling about the season and the future.
It appears as though the Tigers are relatively safe in the division, so long as they play reasonably well down the stretch, but that doesn’t mean that all of the intrigue surrounding the division is gone. If you’re a follower of baseball beyond just the Tigers, the Royals could be a fun team to watch for the rest of the month and into September. I’m going to be rooting for them (except for their games versus the Tigers, of course). They’re still a longshot — Baseball Prospectus has their Wild Card chances at basically 7% — but anything can happen because, hey, it’s baseball.