2014 Kansas City Royals
From BR Bullpen
 2014 Kansas City Royals / Franchise: Kansas City Royals / BR Team Page
Managed by Ned Yost
 History, Comments, Contributions
The 2014 Kansas City Royals were coming off their best season in ages after finishing above .500 in 2013, and had legitimate hopes to reach the postseason for the first time since winning the 1985 World Series. However, a poor start had them three games below .500 at the end of May, and observers were wondering whether the previous season had not provided false hopes, given that the offense was sputtering, unable to generate any homers. The Royals changed hitting coaches on May 29th, replacing Pedro Grifol with Dale Sveum.
It may just have been coincidental, but the Royals began to score a lot more runs starting in June, and that in turn translated into a lot of wins, as the pitching had always been there. On June 17th, they won their 9th straight game in defeating the Detroit Tigers, 11-4, pounding defending Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer for 10 runs in 4 innings. The win gave the Royals possession of first place in the AL Central. It was the first time they were in first place this late in a season since their freakish season in 2003, when they rode a completely unexpected hot start to a winning record. The more solid nature of this year's team, based on a reliable starting rotation and a number of productive home-grown players, brought more appropriate comparisons to the strong Royals teams which were among the American League's best until the middle of the 1980s. The winning streak reached 10 games until stopped by a 2-1 loss to the Tigers on June 19th. The Royals then fell out of first place, but regained it on August 11th following another hot streak, which saw them win 16 of 19 games. On the 11th, they defeated the Oakland Athletics, 3-2, for their 8th straight win, while the Tigers lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates. That same day, they acquired veteran OF/DH Josh Willingham in a trade with the Minnesota Twins, after having been relatively quiet at the July 31st trading deadline. They managed to hold on to first place until the end of the month, even building a three-game lead at one point, but a four-game losing streak brought them back into a tie with the Tigers on August 30th.
It was becoming increasingly likely that the two teams would be in a neck-and-neck battle for first place for the remainder of the season, with a risk that the loser of the fight could be out of the postseason altogether, so the stakes were high heading into the September stretch run. The two rivals played a three-game series at Comerica Park on September 8-10; by winning the first two contests,, the Tigers managed to again pull into a tie, but a great performance by James Shields in the closing game resulted in a 3-0 win and the Royals leaving the Tigers' den with a one-game lead. Another three-game series between the two rivals closed out the Royals' home season on September 19-21; the Tigers won the first two, but the Royals won the third contest, 5-2, and were 1 1/2 games back with a week left to play. The Royals drew 1,956,482 to Kauffman Stadium, the most since 1991, the last season the team had drawn over two million fans. They began the final stretch by splitting a sort-of doubleheader in Cleveland on September 22nd: the opening game had been suspended on August 31st with the Indians having just taken a 4-2 lead in the 10th, but K.C. scored only one run in the bottom half of the frame to lose, 4-3. They then won the regularly scheduled game, 2-0, with Cleveland resuming is position as the home team, thanks to six innings of shutout ball by Danny Duffy. With a Tigers loss that day, they were only one game back, with Cleveland almost eliminated as they now trailed by 3 1/2 with time running out.
The historic day came on September 26th, when a 3-1 win over the Chicago White Sox punched the Royals' ticket into the postseason and ended their 29-season postseason drought. Jeremy Guthrie was the winner, pitching 7 scoreless innings for his 13th win, and Wade Davis and Greg Holland continued their outstanding work out of the bullpen to clinch the win.
 Awards and Honors
 Further Reading
- Bob Nightengale: "Royal flush: Playoff drought on pace to continue", USA Today Sports, June 2, 2014.