The Baseball Desert

Sunday, July 20, 2003

The Yankees still have a four-game lead in the AL East, but the Red Sox refuse to give up the ghost - they hung on yesterday against the Blue Jays and won the game in the bottom of the 11th inning. There were some big hits in the game, but Boston's victory came largely thanks to a couple of key stolen bases - once again, a team shows the value of doing the fundamentals right...

Another team doing that is Kansas City - they're doing what it takes to maintain their lead at the top of the AL Central. I was looking at their stats this morning, and realised that the only player they have in the top five of any major offensive category is Carlos Beltran, whose total of 25 stolen bases is second-highest in the majors. Maybe I'm reading too much into that, but that seems to suggets that lots of the Royals' players are having good, but not great, years, and that the sum of these different parts adds up to a successful winning team. From what I've read and interviews I've heard, these guys have a good feeling about this season, and if you need proof that they're doing all they can to win ballgames, check out Beltran's amazing catch against Seattle yesterday, which robbed the Mariners' Dan Wilson of a home run and kept the Royals in the game (which they eventually won 5-1).

The Royals' pitching staff is also doing its thing, and spreading the workload (and win-load) around. They have 16 different pitchers with at least one win, and their two leading pitchers (Chris George and Jose "So Everyone Thought I Was Washed Up" Lima), have only 9 and 6 wins respectively - compare that with, say, the Yankees, who have 4 pitchers with more than nine wins each (Wells - 12, Pettitte - 11, Mussina - 10, Clemens - 9). Sure, the Yankees' stats reflect a team effort too, but maybe on a higher level and with a lot more cash to play with. The Royals are doing what they need to do to stay on top of their division, and I hope thy can continue that through to the end of the season. I like these guys, their attitude and the way they play, and it would be great to see some new faces in the postseason.