Can the Royals regroup in September to make it back to the postseason?

Former Kansas City Royals manager Buddy Bell had a baseball saying, “don’t ever say things can’t get worse because they can.”

One wouldn’t think things could get worse for the Royals than they did in August.

The month included:

l. A 45-inning scoreless streak, three shy of the major league record shared by the 1906 Philadelphia Athletics and the 1968 Chicago Cubs.

2. Left-handed pitcher Danny Duffy, the Royals’ opening day starter, arrested and charged with driving under the influence in Overland Park. “It’s behavior you don’t want to see, and like Danny said, it is a distraction,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “I take this personally when our players fail off the field. He’s hurting, but honestly, I’m glad he hurting. He needs that. He needs to feel ashamed. He can never ever forget what he’s experiencing because it’s real and its life changing and hopefully it never happens again.”

3. Eight, count ‘em, Royals were on the disabled list as August concluded. The list: Nate Karns, Trevor Cahill, Joakim Soria, Neftali Feliz, Miguel Almonte, Bubba Starling, Brian Flynn and Duffy. Flynn was brought up Aug. 28 and pitched 2 1/3 innings that night before pulling a groin and placed on the disabled list the next day. Starling looked like he was finally figuring things out at the plate with Triple-A Omaha and was possibly a September call up before tearing his oblique.

4. The knowledgeable and affable Rusty Kuntz was removed from the first base coaching box because of vision problems after eye surgery. He will be in the dugout the remainder of the season.

5. And the losses. The Royals went from two games out on July 28 after a nine-game winning streak to 10 games in arrears of Central Division-leader Cleveland. They lost five of six games to the Indians, including failing to score in a three-game sweep in Cleveland. They lost back-to-back games by scores of 12-0 to the Indians and the Rays.

“It’s not what we anticipated for sure,” Moore said. “It’s been frustrating. It’s more frustrating, obviously, inside that clubhouse and on the field and within our fan base.

“We didn’t see this coming, but we’ve got find the strength to persevere through it. We’ve got to be better in all aspects and all phases of the game. As I said many times, if you have a letdown in any one area in the major leagues, you’re going to lose.

“We’ve had some letdowns in some major critical areas lately. But obviously we made a couple of deals at the deadline that we felt were going to really improve our team. We did that simply because we believed in this group of players. So far it hasn’t worked out how we anticipated, not the players we brought in, but just the overall wins on the field.

“In reflection, I’m extremely at peace with what we did and why we did it. There’s a lot of baseball to be played.”

Despite it all, the Royals are still in the midst of the wildcard race, simply because none of the other contending clubs have put together a consistent winning streak.

The September schedule includes four games at Cleveland and six games with Minnesota, teams in front of them in the division. Catching the Indians is infeasible, but overtaking the Twins in the wildcard hunt should be the first goal. They also have nine games left with the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox, two teams looking to 2018 and beyond, but have checked out for 2017.

This is the last hurrah for this Royals’ bunch with Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar and Jason Vargas all eligible for free agency after the season. The gang that went to back-to-back World Series in 2014-15 will soon be breaking up, going separate directions.

The time is now for the Royals.

“I think there is a sense of urgency every single day of your life,” Moore said. It doesn’t matter if it is opening day, or if you’re in middle of the season or the last game. Every game is important. Everything you do is crucial.

“I know as an industry we like to down play it, the 162 games. But every game is important, every pitch is important, every inning is important. That’s why we play them.

“I was raised that you’ve got one chance and that’s now. Worry about tomorrow, tomorrow, so yeah there’s a sense of urgency.”

The Royals need Alex Gordon to hit better in September. They need Ian Kennedy to pitch better. They will need a healthy and contributing Soria and Feliz in the bullpen.

The Royals have to win today to play tomorrow, which is after October 1.

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Article by Alan Eskew

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