The high will continue for the Pirates, who are headed to the playoffs for the first time since 1992. The Royals' buzz got harshed last night by a humbling 6-0 loss to the lowly Seattle Mariners, a silencing of Kansas City's offense that extinguished the lingering embers of their postseason dreams.
The loss means that Kansas City's season will end like so many before it, an unsatisfying September 29 road game against the Chicago White Sox.
The Royals' 2013 campaign started out promisingly enough, reaching a 17-10 record on May 5 after beating the White Sox 6-5 in extra innings. But that's as good as May would get. An eight-game losing streak toward the end of May would sink their record to 22-30 heading into June, a presummer swoon reminiscent of the 2009 season when the Royals lost their grip on an early-season hold on first place in the American League Central.
But unlike 2009, where the only cause for celebration late in the season was Zack Greinke's Cy Young award, the Royals seemed to come out of nowhere toward the end of August and into mid-September, winning 13 of 17 contests to come off a seven-game losing streak that would have otherwise buried their postseason hopes.
While the Royals got tantalizingly close to a wild-card playoff berth, at one time moving past the New York Yankees in the playoff race to get within 2.5 games with plenty of season left to play, inconsistent offense and sloppy defense have players booking tee times in warmer climes in October. The Royals have been shut out three times in their last four games.
With the playoffs out of the question (but at least a winning season secured for the first time since 2003), the main question for the Royals in October is whether manager Ned Yost, brought in as a caretaker following Trey Hillman's firing in the doomed 2010 season, will remain at the helm in 2014. A not-entirely popular figure with the fans and the purveyor of questionable game-management decisions, Yost is reportedly seeking a multiyear contract.
Royals General Manager Dayton Moore told reporters in Seattle on Wednesday
that he wants Yost back, but that both had agreed to ditch contract talks until the end of the season.
The Kansas City Royals and the Pittsburgh Pirates, a pair of once-proud baseball franchises interminably linked by futility for the last 20 years, finally got that irresistible taste of winning baseball this year.