With apologies to Little Orphan Annie, the sun’ll come out today.
Considering the month the Kansas City Royals just went through, and that they’re currently in often-overcast Seattle, that was no guarantee.
No team in baseball will be happier to flip the calendar than the Royals, who are coming off the worst June in their 50-year history.
“I’m ready to turn the page and start over in July,” Royals manager Ned Yost told The Kansas City Star. “It’s just kind of a reset. We’re out of there, it’s done; it’s behind us. Let’s go on to July and see what happens.”
How bad was June?
The Royals went 5-21, tied for their fewest wins in the month (and that came in 1981, when they went 5-5 as the season was interrupted by a work stoppage).
They scored four or fewer runs in all but two games, including 21 of the past 22, and never won back-to-back games.
Kansas City scored a major league low 58 runs in the month, 29 fewer than runner-up Tampa Bay (87).
They batted .193 (162-for-839), the worst month in franchise history (the 1992 Royals hit .207 in April), and had 10 hits in a game just once.
“It’s not frustration,” Yost told MLB.com of his club’s rough June. “Well, that’s a lie. We’re all frustrated. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve never seen an offensive drought like we’ve had all month long. It’s pretty puzzling. There’s no answer for it.”
One of the few bright spots for the Royals was the performance of rookie right-hander Brad Keller (2-2, 2.25 ERA), who is scheduled to face Mariners left-hander James Paxton (7-2, 3.65) in the series finale Sunday afternoon at Safeco Field.
In his last outing Monday, Keller pitched seven innings, allowed just two hits and struck out six in a 2-0 victory against the Angels, getting his first win as a starter.
The Angels hit just one ball out of the infield against Keller and never got a runner past first base.
“It was pretty super-duper,” Yost said. “Just banging strikes, on the attack, everything that you want. Just a great pitching performance. Never was in any real trouble and had the game in total control.”
Keller became just the second Royals starter to throw at least seven shutout innings while allowing two or fewer hits within his first five major league starts. The other was Mel Stottlemyre Jr. (now the Mariners pitching coach) in 1990.
“I was able to keep the ball down, keep them off-balance,” Keller said after his last start. “Slider felt really good and made some adjustments in the bullpen prior to this game, and it felt really good.”
Paxton, who is 2-0 with a 2.54 ERA in five career starts against Kansas City, will be facing the Royals for the second time this season. He didn’t get a decision in a 4-2 Seattle road victory on April 11, allowing two runs on six hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out 10.
Paxton had nearly identical statistics in his last start Tuesday in Baltimore, allowing two runs on six hits in seven innings with one walk and 10 strikeouts in a 3-2 victory.
“(Paxton) came right after them, right out of the chute,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “I thought he was outstanding.”