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Sweet victory: Struggling Royals snap losing streak

From ESPN - August 12, 2017

CHICAGO -- Sometimes how you won is almost as important as whether you won. Or at least that's what the Kansas City Royals are hoping.

Do not misunderstand. The Royals needed a win in the worst way, and no matter how a victory might have unfolded, K.C. would have still basked in the booming postgame music that fills clubhouses after a W.

"It's great hearing music," said Royals starter Ian Kennedy, who put up a quality start in Saturday's 5-4 win over the Chicago White Sox. "We have not heard it in awhile. We are pretty streaky lately, so hopefully we get a streak going the other way."

Here's some context: After beating the Boston Red Sox on July 28, the Royals had run off nine straight wins and reached a high-water mark of seven games over .500. They were just two games back of Cleveland in the AL Central and 2.5 games ahead of the scrum for the American League's second wild-card spot. After a loss the next day, the Royals won in Boston again to raise their run differential to break-even for the first time all season.

After that point and before Saturday, the Royals' feel-good, turnaround season had transmogrified into an Edgar Allan Poe-kind of slow, unfolding nightmare. The top of the stat sheet told the story -- 10 losses in 12 games -- but when you dig in, it was even worse than that. At the very point when Kansas City might have put a stranglehold on its third postseason appearances in four years, this happened:

Since the Royals' wave crested in Boston, the bullpen had put up a collective 6.92 ERA and blown three of five save chances. Every middle reliever between set-up man Joakim Soria and closer Kelvin Herrera had an ERA over 5.00. In other words, no matter what number manager Ned Yost dialed up, it was the wrong answer.

"Just seems like the last four or five days, they have all struggled a little bit," Yost said at the start of the series. "Those things get turned around quick, so I do not worry about it too much."

That trend continued Saturday despite the win. Kennedy departed with Kansas City up 3-2 after he walked Anderson with one out in the seventh. Omar Narvaez, the first batter lefty Scott Alexander faced, doubled to drive Anderson to third. With the infield drawn in, Alexander got Adam Engel on a grounder to keep the runners in place. But Leury Garcia plated them both with a two-out single.

Voila. The bullpen strikes again.

"The pitch to Garcia was a pretty good pitch," Yost said. "He just poked it into center. Ian had been grinding all day. Threw the ball extremely well."

Flashback to late July, with the Royals so clearly a big part of the AL playoff chase, general manager Dayton Moore went about adding complementary pieces to his roster. Three pitchers were added from the San Diego Padres, all of whom had performed well in San Diego but, so far, not so much in Kansas City. And he added old pal Melky Cabrera from Saturday's opponent, the White Sox.

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