CHICAGO — Sometimes how you won is almost as important as whether you won. Or at least that’s what the Kansas City Royals are hoping.
Don’t misunderstand. The Royals needed a win in the worst way, and no matter how a victory might have unfolded, K.C. would have still basked in the booming postgame music that fills clubhouses after a W.
“It’s great hearing music,” said Royals starter Ian Kennedy, who put up a quality start in Saturday’s 5-4 win over the Chicago White Sox. “We haven’t heard it in awhile. We’re pretty streaky lately, so hopefully we get a streak going the other way.”
Here’s some context: After beating the Boston Red Sox on July 28, the Royals had run off nine straight wins and reached a high-water mark of seven games over .500. They were just two games back of Cleveland in the AL Central and 2.5 games ahead of the scrum for the American League’s second wild-card spot. After a loss the next day, the Royals won in Boston again to raise their run differential to break-even for the first time all season.
After that point and before Saturday, the Royals’ feel-good, turnaround season had transmogrified into an Edgar Allan Poe-kind of slow, unfolding nightmare. The top of the stat sheet told the story — 10 losses in 12 games — but when you dig in, it was even worse than that. At the very point when Kansas City might have put a stranglehold on its third postseason appearances in four years, this happened:
A three-game sweep at Baltimore, in which the Royals scored a total of three runs against a team that entered the series with the second-worst team ERA in baseball.
After a home split of a four-game series against Seattle, the Royals were pounded in a four-game, home-and-home set with their archrival, the St. Louis Cardinals. Their bullpen in that series had a 9.56 ERA.