CLEVELAND | Yeah, I know. Why couldn’t the Royals play like this all year long? They wondered the same thing Sunday after polishing off the Cleveland Indians 7-0 for their sixth victory in seven games.
“It stinks to know that we’re playing this well now,” said left fielder David DeJesus, who fueled a balanced 12-hit attack with two singles and a double.
“That’s what I was thinking in the last inning. We’re too good of a team not to have been able to do this during the middle of the season. But it’s one of those things. All you can do is look forward and win as many games as we can before the season ends.”
Sure, it’s bittersweet. Winning now means little beyond that little issue of avoiding another 100-loss season -- although let’s not minimize that.
“It all helps going into the offseason,” said catcher John Buck, who opened the scoring with a homer in the third inning before adding an RBI double in the sixth.
“If you finish up strong, you see a payoff for all of your hard work and your persistence in not giving in. It’s been tough this year, but if you finish up strong it can only help you grow personally and as a team.”
Nobody is closing stronger than right-hander Kyle Davies, who won his fourth straight start and posted a fourth straight quality start. He is 8-9 after going 5-1 with a 2.95 ERA in his last seven starts.
Davies allowed just one hit in six innings, although he matched a career high by walking six. So, no, it wasn’t air-tight. Still effective, though.
“This is back-to-back starts (with too many walks),” said Davies, who also walked six in his previous outing. “Putting them on (with walks) is a good way for me to get myself in trouble. My (luck) is not going to last if I keep walking six.
“But that’s part of my game plan, too. I’m not going to try to throw the ball right down the middle. I haven’t got as much movement as some other guys. I’m not going to pick, but I’m going to try to throw to the outer half and inner half.”
The Royals backed Davies with a relentless attack -- few booms but many pops -- that steadily widened the lead after Buck’s homer against rookie Carlos Carrasco, who slipped to 0-2 after allowing five runs and eight hits in six innings.
The Royals nicked Carrasco for two more runs in the fourth inning and single runs in the fifth and sixth before adding single runs in the seventh against Mike Gosling and in the ninth against Kerry Wood.
DeJesus’ three hits raised his average to a season-high .280 and extended his hitting streak to 14 games. Willie Bloomquist had two hits, drove in a run and scored another. Ditto for Mitch Maier.
Billy Butler collected his 46th double and had two RBIs in boosting his club-leading total to 80. He also made an eye-popping defensive play at first base by bare-handing a grounder that hit the base and changed direction in the first inning.
That’s how things are going right now for the Royals.
“We’re having fun,” Butler said. “We’ve had some timely hitting. We’re putting together good at-bats. But the main thing this last week is we’ve had solid pitching. It all feeds off starting pitching.”
The production spread through the entire lineup. Eight of nine starters reached base, and the seven runs were scored by seven different players. The only negative, really, was Alberto Callaspo’s hitting streak ended at 12 games.
The bullpen was solid, too. Roman Colon retired six of seven in his two innings before Carlos Rosa worked around Matt LaPorta’s two-out single in the ninth.
Davies walked five in the first five innings but didn’t allow a hit until Shin-Soo Choo opened the sixth with a line single into center. Jhonny Peralta followed with a walk, but the inning turned around when Travis Hafner lined into a double play.
The Royals are 57-86 after winning two of three at Progressive Field. It follows a three-game sweep at home against Detroit and marks the first successive winning series since a four-series run from April 27 to May 7 against Toronto, Minnesota, Chicago and Seattle.
That final victory over Seattle marked the season’s high point: The Royals were 18-11 and led the American League Central Division by three games. They won only three of their next 34 series before sweeping the Tigers.
At least the 100-loss bugaboo is fading. The Royals must go just 6-13 or better in their remaining 19 games to avoid 100 losses for the fifth time in eight years.
“We expected a lot more than what we’ve done this year,” DeJesus said. “But you can’t look back.” Who wants to?