Ferguson: May was unkind to Brewers, Royals

Scott Ferguson
5/31/2013 10:53:20 AM
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As stunned as we may be by the Blue Jays 23-31 record and last place standing in the A.L. East, there are actually two teams that have blown me away by their monumental collapses in May.

Let's start in the National League. You've got to concede, Milwaukee hasn't been quite as imposing since Prince Fielder left for Detroit as a free agent. But they still looked like a solid team that could at least be close to one of the Wild Cards.

Ron Roenicke's crew got out of the gate with a fairly solid 14-11 record in April. They have a star left fielder in Ryan Braun (juiced or not) and a budding superstar at short in Jean Segura. However they haven't had the starting pitching and their bullpen has been in turmoil through injuries and inconsistency.

The Brewers are heading for the worst month of May in franchise history. They have dropped six in a row and are just 5-22 for the month. The "Brew Crew" has tumbled into last place in the N.L. Central, and they are already 16 games back of first place St. Louis and 13 behind division rival Cincinnati for the second Wild Card spot. Barring a miracle, their season is already over on the final day of May.

General manager Doug Melvin and assistant GM Gord Ash would appear safe, based on an excellent track record and the Brewers solid attendance. Roenicke, though, could be in trouble if the nose dive continues.

Royal Pains

The team though that really puzzles me is the Kansas City Royals. G.M. Drayton Moore went out in the off-season and appeared to fill the void in the starting rotation by acquiring James Shields and Wade Davis from Tampa Bay and Ervin Santana from the Angels. Though none of the three have been spectacular, they have added some stability to the starting staff and some veteran leadership.

The Royals actually went 17-10 in April, and looked like a team that might press Detroit for the division lead over the course of the season.

Then in May, the bats died. The Royals are only 5-19 this month. Not only that but they tied a franchise record by dropping 10 in a row at home and had dropped eight in a row overall before Thursday's bizarre win at St. Louis. More on that in a second. But for now K.C. is last in the A.L. Central and seven and a half back of the Yankees for the second Wild Card spot, same as the Blue Jays.

A year ago, the Royals tied for last in the American League in home runs. Again this season, they were struggling to hit the long ball. Early this week, batting coach Jack Maloof stuck his foot in his mouth by saying the Royals would likely finish last in homers again. A couple of days later Maloof and his assistant batting coach Andre David were re-assigned within the organization.

The man taking over as interim batting coach for Thursday's game was 60-year-old George Brett, the greatest Royals player of them all.

Yes, the Royals did win the game at St. Louis and break off that eight-game losing skid, but it was one of the strangest games you would ever want to see. The Royals could only muster four hits on the night, but managed to rally for three runs in the top of the ninth to beat the "Red Birds" 4-2.

That's not even half the story. The game played in front of over 43,000 fans was delayed for an hour at the start by rain. Heading to the top of the ninth, St. Louis was up 2-1. Then Jeff Francoeur slugged a homer - the Royals first in 59 innings - and Eric Hosmer later in the inning hit what proved to be a game winning two-run bases loaded double off Victor Marte.

That wasn't the final chapter though. Right after that, the skies opened up again, and the game went into a marathon rain delay of four hours and 32 minutes. The game finally ended at 3:14am.

This was the Royals one and only visit to St. Louis this season, so veteran ump Joe West was determined to get it in. He actually could have ruled the game was official after eight and given St. Louis the 2-1 victory. Over the course of the delay the Cardinals brass and manager Mike Matheny actually lobbied for West to do just that. Matheny said he was worried that one of his players might have been injured on the slippery field. He couldn't be too critical though because it was his home grounds crew at Busch Stadium. In fact, he said later they did a great job just to make the field playable. When play resumed, it took just 12 more minutes to get the final six outs.

Will this be a turning point in the Royals season? Who knows? I thought the Blue Jays might get some huge momentum by having four relievers combine to shut out Atlanta 3-0 on Wednesday night. So what happens Thursday? R.A. Dickey struggles again and the Blue Jays get blasted 11-3 in the series finale.

Bruised Yankees

This is circle the wagons weekend for the Yankees. They've lost five in a row including a four-game sweep in Queens at the hand of their crosstown rivals, the Mets. This weekend they are home to the division-leading Red Sox whom they trail by two games. C.C Sabathia will be facing Jon Lester in a duel of lefties in game 1. The Yanks are due to get Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixeira back in the line-up. At this point it would probably be better for the Blue Jays if one team or the other get swept in their respective series.

Of course, they would have to co-operate by taking three themselves at San Diego. Game on!

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