Just about everything is going right for the Kansas City Royals these days. They've won 24 of their last 31 games to take over first place in the AL Central.
Even the schedule seems to be breaking their way. The Royals played their last nine games against teams currently in last place — and they'll play 10 of their final 33 against last-place Minnesota, Texas and Boston.
Manager Ned Yost, however, is taking nothing for granted.
"These are the games that 'according to the standings' and this and that, these are games you're supposed to come in and win — and that's not always the case," Yost said. "You don't understand the difficulty of coming in and playing a major league game. It's hard to win a major league game."
The team chasing the Royals in the division can certainly vouch for that. Second-place Detroit had to fight back over the weekend just to salvage a four-game split against the Twins. Minnesota scored 32 runs in the first two games of that series.
According to STATS, the Royals have the easiest schedule in the American League the rest of the way, playing opponents with an aggregate winning percentage of .479. But how significant is that? The Tigers will face teams with a winning percentage of .496, so they'll have a chance to go on a run themselves if they play well enough.
In baseball, there are no gimmes on the schedule — and that's even more true this year, when there's a decent chance nobody will lose 100 games. Texas, which has baseball's worst record, is on pace for 99 defeats. The Twins may be in last place, but they're on pace for 72 wins and just gave Detroit's pitching fits.
And on the flip side, baseball hasn't had a 100-win team since 2011, and nobody is on pace for it this year either. The parity in the game right now is one reason nobody's schedule will be that easy or that hard down the stretch.
For what it's worth, the toughest remaining schedule belongs to Texas — the Rangers can't play against themselves, after all. Their opponents have a .537 winning percentage.
The NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers (.467) have the easiest road ahead, but the second-easiest schedule belongs to San Francisco, which trails the Dodgers by 4 1/2 games in the division.
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