Now they find themselves trailing the division-leading Detroit Tigers by just a half-game.
All along, this is the team that general manager Dayton Moore and Yost envisioned they would have as they scribbled down potential lineups during the offseason.
After trading for Nori Aoki and signing Omar Infante, Moore felt strongly that he had filled the two gaping holes in the Royals’ lineup — right field and second base.
"If this is the team we enter spring training with," Moore told me last December, "we are a better team than we were last year. Much better."
The problem, of course, is that for two months, the Royals’ offense tried to make a liar out of Moore. A lineup that was supposed to produce one through nine instead looked feeble and overmatched.
Now, however, that same lineup seemingly can’t be stopped. Everyone is contributing. There are no soft spots for opposing pitchers to breeze through.
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The Royals are averaging seven runs per game during the winning streak. And, coincidence or not, they’re averaging 5.5 runs per game since Dale Sveum took over as hitting coach.
In the big picture, this is the offense Moore thought he had last December. He thought Aoki and Infante would be tablesetters, with Infante also delivering clutch hits (like his three-run homer Monday night).
Moore determined he wouldn’t have to go out and add another power hitter back then because moving Alex Gordon from leadoff to the No. 5 spot essentially gave the Royals another run-producer in the middle of the lineup. Gordon is tied for the team lead with seven homers and leads the Royals in RBI with 36.
Eric Hosmer, after hitting just one homer in the first two months of the season, has three homers and nine RBI during the winning streak.
In his last 10 games, Billy Butler is hitting .361 with five doubles, a homer and 10 RBI.
Sal Perez is riding a 10-game hitting streak that includes a .395 average, three doubles, two homers and eight RBI.