That's fewer games back than the White Sox were before they starter to beat NL teams on every day of the week, and it's closer to making the playoffs than either the Toronto Blue Jays or Oakland Athletics, who have both convinced more than a few smart people that they are having "surprise" seasons. When ESPN's coverage takes time to stop talking about the Angels tonight, you'll probably hear them refer to the Royals as a "contender." That's for the postseason, in case you are wondering.
In reality, the chances of this Royals team actually making the postseason is about one in fifty -- don't get your hopes up. However, what's far more important in the grand scheme of trying to turn a perennial loser into a winner is that the Royals have a pretty good chance of holding their relevance in the AL Central into the middle of August.
The Royals haven't lost 100 games since 2006, but over the last four years, here are the Royals winning percentages and games back in the AL Central on Independence Day:
- 2007: .424, 15.5 GB
- 2008: .448, 10.0 GB
- 2009: .425, 10.0 GB
- 2010: .444, 8.0 GB
Before they can be considered a division contender though, they have to pull themselves away from Cleveland in the standings, and towards the White Sox, Indians, and Tigers. On a national stage tonight, the Royals will look to take that next step.
A sweep of the Angels might not be the most impressive feat in baseball, but it's going to catch the attention of many observers, especially if you can close it out on a national stage. If the Royals lose tonight, they still win the series. However, they lose out on a one-time shot to regain relevance. If they pour on an 8 run victory, they'll be viewed as one of the hottest teams in all of baseball, a chance to get out from under the wet, AL Central rug that they've been stinking up for years.
Anthony Lerew gets the honors for the Royals tonight. He will be opposed by Joel Pinero, who resurrected his career with the St. Louis Cardinals.