The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Royals steam into the Central race

It’s no secret; the Royals have been one of the hottest teams in all of baseball recently, and they show no signs of slowing down.
Kansas City Royals’ Eric Hosmer gestures to Mike Moustakas after scoring on a double hit by Moustakas during the third inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Sunday, June 18, 2017, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

After a slow start to the season that included a nine-game losing streak, Kansas City has picked up the pace to win its last five series and put itself right in the heart of the AL Central race.

When the team was in the early months of the season, it suffered a seemingly inescapable lull at the plate. While the starting rotation boasted one of the best ERAs in the league, the offense just could not generate runs.
However, just as fans hoped, the Royals got into a groove.

First baseman Eric Hosmer and catcher Salvador Perez have been superb, batting .302 and .290 respectively while also leading their positions in All Star voting for the American League.Third baseman Mike Moustakas has also played a huge role with his power at the plate. A threat to go deep every time he comes to bat, he has crushed 19 homers this season and is well on his way to shattering Steve Balboni’s franchise record of 36.

Another key is the emergence of second baseman Whit Merrifield.
After getting a good chunk of playing time last season, the South Carolina product began the season in Triple-A Omaha when the Royals opted to start the young Raúl Mondesí.

The experiment didn’t work for the time being, and Mondesí was sent down, and Merrifield was called up.

Since then, Merrifield has made his presence felt, hitting .283 with 29 RBIs. He also concluded the Royals’ June 23 win over the Blue Jays with a walk-off 2-run double.

The team scored 4 runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to seal the comeback victory.
In addition to its offensive improvement, Kansas City has had stellar pitching throughout the season.
Even though Opening Day starter Danny Duffy hasn’t left the disabled list since May 30, and fellow starter Nathan Karns hasn’t played since the end of the same month, the rest of the pitching staff has picked up the slack.

Starting pitcher Jason Vargas has been tremendous. He is tied for the most wins in the league with 11, earning a victory in each of his last six starts.

The Apple Valley, California, native also owns the second-best ERA in all of baseball at 2.29.
The Royals received some good news in regards to Duffy; he began his rehab assignment in Omaha following an oblique injury.

When the season started, people were already counting the Royals out. But just as they have time and time again, they have come back and made themselves a threat.

Duffy has had plenty of time to deal with his injury, and he offered his thoughts on the team’s recent surge and outside expectations.

“Every year, y’all count us out. & late june, every year, we flip that switch. And the networks jump on board …” Duffy tweeted on June 24. “we never left, you guys.”

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Pete Ruden
Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor
Email: [email protected] Twitter: @PeteyRuden Pete Ruden is the Pregame Editor at The Daily Iowan, where he has worked since the beginning of his college career. He has covered a variety of sports at the DI, including football, men's basketball, baseball, wrestling, and men's tennis. Currently a senior, he served as a sports reporter his freshman year, before becoming the Assistant Sports Editor and then Sports Editor his junior year.