The Royals’ Alex Gordon is greeted by third-base coach Mike Jirschele after hitting a solo home run off Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco on Saturday. Phil Long AP
The Royals’ Alex Gordon is greeted by third-base coach Mike Jirschele after hitting a solo home run off Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco on Saturday. Phil Long AP

Judging the Royals

Lee Judge shares insights from KC's major-leaguers.

Judging the Royals

The Royals playoff odds aren’t good, but they continue with style

By Lee Judge

ljudge@kcstar.com

September 18, 2017 11:57 AM

In the 1975 movie The Eiger Sanction, Clint Eastwood’s character is a college professor, a mountain climber and a professional assassin. That strikes me as carrying multi-tasking a bit too far, but I guess I should quit complaining about drawing political cartoons and covering baseball.

I haven’t been asked to shoot anybody … yet.

Anyway …

During the movie’s climactic scene, Clint and his climbing team are caught on the mountain when a storm sets in. Clint assures a young climber that they will make it, but the kid replies:

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“I don’t think so. But we shall continue with style.”

If you ask me how long I’ve been married I’ll have to do the math in my head, but 40 years after seeing that movie I still remember that line:

The odds might not be good, but you can always continue with style.

Royals could have won three of four at Cleveland

Before the Royals came to Cleveland last Thursday, the Indians had won 21 straight games while outscoring their opponents by 104 runs. Get out your calculator and that means the Indians were beating teams by an average of 4.9 runs per game, which seems a bit like showing off.

And the Royals had some up close and personal experience with what those beating felt like: in late August they came to Cleveland and got beat 4-0, 4-0 and 12-0.

So to sum up:

Coming into this latest series with Cleveland the Royals were 72-73 and about to play a team that was 90-56, had won 21 games in a row and were beating opponents badly.

If Vegas had existed back then, David would have had better odds against Goliath.

But in Game 1 of the series, with a rookie on the mound, the Royals almost beat the Indians, losing by one run in extra innings.

In Game 2 of the series the Royals did beat the Indians by one run, ending Cleveland’s winning streak.

In Game 3 the Royals played some sloppy baseball and lost 8-4, but in Game 4 the Royals once again lost to the Indians by a single run.

The Indians were — and probably still are — the hottest team in baseball and the sub-.500 Royals played well enough to have an excellent chance of winning three out of four games.

They say close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, but despite very little hope of making it to the postseason, the Royals still gave the hottest team in baseball all they could handle.

13 games left to see this team in action

I started covering the Royals in 2010 and I’m thankful I did. It meant I got to see this current team from the beginning.

In 2011 things were starting to change. That’s the year Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar and Danny Duffy played their first games for the Royals.

So, like a lot of Royals fans who stuck with the team even when they were bad, I got to see this team grow from a bunch of rookies trying to figure things out to World Series champions four years later.

And now this particular group of players has 13 games left on their schedule. After that, things will change and some of those players may never wear Royals blue again.

The Royals are now limping toward the finish line, five games out of a wild-card spot with 13 games left to play, but even though the odds aren’t good, the Royals continue with style.

Clint Eastwood should be proud.