It was probably only me, but from about the sixth inning, I was hanging on every pitch like it was a game 7.
Here are some numbers that you might already know, but bear repeating:
• The Royals had gone 78 series without a sweep, which was the longest streak in the majors since the Phillies 79-series streak in 1997-1998.
• The Royals swept the Yankees at home for the first time since July of 1990.
• The last time the Royals won three straight games was almost a year ago. And I’m not sure that even counts since they sandwiched that streak around the All-Star break, July 11-16, 2004.
That all of this happened against the Yankees makes it all the better. The Royals are a lead pipe cinch to lose 100 games and might even threaten the ’62 Mets as the worst team ever, but for three nights at the start of the summer, they got over on the mightiest team in all of the land. If you are a fan of this team, it’s these kind small things that can keep you going.
And for all the glitz and glamour the Yankees bring when they come to town, the Royals outperformed them in every area of the game.
• What can you say about the pitching in this series? The starters kept the team in the ballgame and the bullpen completely shut the Yankees down. Every Royal reliever saw action and compiled a noteworthy line:
11 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 9 SO
Over the three games, the bullpen held the Yankees to a .205 batting average while posting a miniscule ERA of 0.82. That’s called closing out ballgames.
• The Royals were clearly the better team at the plate over the three games. A comparison:
The only area the Yankees outshone the Royals was in the walk department, edging KC by an 11-4 margin. This highlights a disturbing trend that the team is again falling victim to…the inability to work the count. Over the last six games, the Royals have drawn only 10 walks, and only one of them by noted walking machine Matt Stairs.
• Forget payroll. Any team is going to have trouble scoring runs when the top of the lineup can’t get on base. The Yankees leadoff hitter (Derek Jeter) and their number two batter (Tony Womack & Hideki Matsui) were a combined 4-24 with two walks and one run scored against the Royals.
• And the most important stat of all: Over the three games the Royals outscored the Yankees 13-6.
In the end this series wasn’t any watershed moment, or some magical turning point in the progress of the youth movement. It was just three games at the start of June.
But it was fun!
And by the way, don't these two back pages look similar?