KANSAS CITY, Mo. Here's a thought: Maybe we've got this narrative all screwed up. Maybe it's not all about the Tommy John surgeries (which, admittedly, don't help), or the yo-yo pitching lines of Luke Hochevar (although those don't help either), or the fact the bullpen keeps getting worked over like a rented mule.
Maybe it's this: After Saturday's 8-2 loss to St. Louis, the Kansas City Royals have now scored three or fewer runs for the 13th time this month. On the season, the Royals have accounted for 3.855 runs per game, which happens to be next in last in the American League in terms of offensive production.
"It's one of those spells every team goes through throughout the year," said first baseman Eric Hosmer, whose own challenges another oh-fer Saturday dropped his average to .213 have been well-documented. "Everyone knows we're bound to get hot sometime."
Until then, third-base coach Eddie Rodriguez remains the loneliest man at Kauffman Stadium. Heading into Saturday's tussle, the Royals had scored 3.88 runs a contest. As of late Friday night, the Rangers had scored 5.28; Toronto had 4.94; the Yankees 4.74. The American League average was 4.44.
Manager Ned Yost insists it's not a question of desire "Everybody's working their tail off," he said nor is it necessarily an indictment of hitting coach Kevin Seitzer.
"We're just not swinging well right now," the skipper continued. "Those things kind of go in cycles, though."
The scouting report coming out of Arizona said this was a bunch that would swing some big sticks, that would try to win its share of 7-6, 6-5 ballgames. Instead, the Royals have given up four or fewer runs in 43 of 69 tilts 62.3 percent and sport a record of 30-13 in those contests. The Royals' team ERA as of Friday night was 4.10; the American League average was 3.99.
Thanks largely to the relief corps, the arms have actually kind of held up their end of the bargain. Especially given the injuries to Danny Duffy, Felipe Paulino, Blake Wood, and Joakim Soria.
But the lineup, see, that's another story altogether. The Royals have scored three runs or fewer in 35 of 69 games, or roughly half the slate. Bruce Chen has made seven quality starts; he's gotten 3.1 runs of support per outing to show for it. Luis Mendoza is what he is, but it doesn't help when he's getting 3.6 runs a contest behind him, either.
"Yeah, baseball's a weird game sometimes," left fielder Eric Gordon offered. "You just find ways to win. I think last year, our offense was amazing, and we lost a lot of games. And this year, our pitching is picking us up right now."
Of course, given the run of bad fortune and ill health, it's a staff that's also, at the moment, being held together by chewing gum, chicken wire and rosary beads. Heck, when you think about it, it's remarkable the Local Nine are even in this crazy American League Central race, considering the slow starts of Hosmer at first (OPS as of Saturday: .640), Gordon in left (.768) and Jeff Francoeur in right (.686), three positions that are designed to carry the load, offensively.
"That gives our team a lot of confidence, knowing that we haven't even played close to our best baseball, and we're still real close in this thing," Hosmer said. "I think it gives everybody a lot of confidence knowing that our best baseball is still yet to come."
You'd think. At least, you'd hope.
Since the designated hitter was introduced to the American League in 1973, only two other Royals teams have scored fewer than four runs per game over an entire season: The 1981 squad that won the second-half American League West title during the strike year, and the 1992 unit that wound up 72-90. That's it. Instead of chasing Cleveland, the Royals are chasing history. The wrong dang kind.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at email@example.com