The Cleveland Indians marched into Kansas City last week with a chance to take down the Royals and claim American League Central supremacy.
The Indians did just that by sweeping the four-game series.
But who expected it to be the start of a total downfall in Kansas City?
As of Thursday night the Royals have now lost 11 straight games and have been swept by the Indians, Chicago White Sox, and Detroit Tigers.
What was once a promising start has turned into a 16-20 nightmare in the middle of May.
So are the Royals totally out of the division race?
FINAL: Tigers 4, #Royals 3
— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) May 13, 2021
A Weird Year in the Central
The year began with the White Sox and Minnesota Twins being the two favorites.
The White Sox are actually living up to the hype, even though Tony La Russa continues to make some head-scratching decisions as manager.
Minnesota is the problem when it comes to Vegas predictions.
The Twins are 12-23 and fighting with the Tigers in the basement of the Central.
That leaves the Indians as Chicago’s top competition.
But the Royals were supposed to be in it too.
This 11-game winning streak may actually be evidence that the start was a fluke and this is where the team will sit in the standings all year.
Just a reminder that it's almost May 11 and the Kansas City Royals have the 20th-best record in baseball. https://t.co/RhetSI3jWf
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 10, 2021
A few things in last week’s sweep seemed to stand out about the Royals.
Evidence of a Collapse
It was bizarre to see the lack of composure from the Royals.
Of course, everyone had to deal with umpire Angel Hernandez making some truly baffling calls.
But the Indians were never losing their cool.
Mike Matheny seemed to be treating each game like it was the World Series and it backfired every single time.
The Indians began with three close victories before a 4-0 shutout win in the series finale.
The third game in the series was the real turning point, potentially of the Royals’ season.
Kansas City jumped out to a 4-0 lead against Shane Bieber.
The ace then left the game with the Indians only trailing 4-3.
There was life on offense.
All the Royals bullpen had to do was come in and preserve a one-run lead for three innings.
They proceeded to get beat by Jose Ramirez and Josh Naylor as the pair launched solo home runs to give their squad a 5-4 win.
This game both teams identical 16-13 records and the trajectory for each club has been drastically different ever since.
Remembering the Calendar
The Royals are only 16-20 so the season is not lost.
But something major is wrong when you get swept three times in a row and lose all three to a rebuilding Tigers team.
This is great news for the Indians.
It leaves the White Sox as the main competition in the division and brings back memories of a weak Central.
The Twins are still a team to keep an eye on as well.
Preseason predictions don’t carry guarantees and the fact the Indians are doing so well is all that matters.
Let’s all just hope the Royals’ fate doesn’t come anywhere near Cleveland.
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