Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox went into Kansas City tonight poised to add to his Cy Young bid. The White Sox are the leaders of the Division and the Royals have been out of contention for months. This seemed like an easy win for the South Siders.
Except it wasn't. Royals pitcher Luis Mendoza shut down the White Sox—and the pitcher with the long flowing hair won his third game this month. Salvador Perez hit the go ahead double. Billy Butler and Lorenzo Cain contributed to the Royals cause. Greg Holland earned his five saves in six tries.
They are not household names or big stars, but perhaps that is the point. The Royals are using players that send even die hard fans to the Internet, wondering "who are these guys?"
Their August schedule is jam packed with contending teams hoping to pad their win total against Kansas City. Yet, since August 5th, the Royals have played the Rangers, White Sox, Orioles, A's and White Sox again twelve times, and won eight times.
Four of those wins have been by two runs or fewer, making the contenders grind their teeth that they let one get away against the Royals.
If they win one of the next two games at home against the White Sox, they would have beaten them four out of six times this month. These are the games that can haunt a contending team in a tight pennant race like the White Sox are facing.
In fact the Royals play the Tigers or White Sox 15 times over their last 44 games. They can play a tremendous factor in deciding the American League Central Champion.
And if their performance in August is any indication, they are relishing the role of spoiler.