Top 10 Games in Royals Postseason History

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Just because Royals season is over and there will be no October baseball this year doesn’t mean that we can’t take a look back at some of the best games in Royals postseason history.  There have been seventy-four postseason games played by the Royals in team history and we have seen everything from heartbreaks to thrilling come-from-behind victories.  In this article, we recap the top 10 games in Royals postseason history.  Here we go with the countdown.

 

#10:  1976 American League Championship Series, Game 5 – New York Yankees 7, Kansas City Royals 6

We start off our countdown with a game that defined the late 1970s and early 1980s.  This game featured a wide array of emotions for Royals fans.  From high, to low, back to high, then, heartbreak.

In the best-of-five series, neither team carried momentum, as the Yankees won games one and three and the Royals winning games two and four.  In the decisive Game 5, Royals skipper, Whitey Herzog, sent seventeen game winner, Dennis Leonard, to the mound to face-off against the Yankees’ Ed Figueroa.  

The Royals got off to a quick start in the first on a two-run home run from first baseman, John Mayberry.  However, the Yankees’ countered in the bottom of the first with two runs of their own as they knocked out Dennis Leonard four hitters into the game.  Lefty Paul Splittorff came in and stymied the damage there.  The Royals responded in the top of the second when Cookie Rojas scored on Buck Martinez’s RBI single.  However, Figueroa would settle down after the third and the Yankees would score two in the third off of Splittorff and two in the sixth off of Andy Hassler to take a 6-3 lead into the top of the eighth.  

With the Royals six outs away from elimination, Al Cowens singled off of Figueroa to begin the eighth.  Jim Wohlford would then follow up Cowens single with a single of his own off of Grant Jackson, who relieved Figueroa, to bring up 1976 American League Batting Champion, George Brett with two on and nobody out.  Brett, who only hit seven home runs all season, hit one into the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium to tie the game at six apiece.  It would be the first of many great postseason moments in the Hall of Fame career for Brett.

The Royals would threaten in the ninth.  With two outs, Martinez singled and Cowens walked off of Dick Tidrow.  However, Tidrow would get Wohlford to ground into a forceout at second to end the threat there.  In the bottom half of the ninth, the Royals relied on closer Mark Littell to get the game into extra innings.  Into the box stepped Yankees first baseman, Chris Chambliss, who hit a ball over the glove of Hal McRae in right field to end the game and send the Yankees to the World Series.  It was one of the greatest games in Major League history and one of the most heartbreaking moments in Kansas City sports history.  However, had the Royals won, we would be talking about George Brett’s three-run home run forever.

 

#9:  1980 World Series, Game 3 – Kansas City Royals 4, Philadelphia Phillies 3 (10 innings)

Finally, after years of heartache and disappointment, the World Series had come to Kansas City, with the Royals wasting no time giving their long-suffering fans something thrilling.

After failing to take advantage of opportunities in games one and two in Philadelphia, the series shifted to Kansas City with the Royals in a must-win Game 3.  Royals manager, Jim Frey, would send six-foot-seven righty, Rich Gale, to the mound to take on Phillies seventeen game winner, Dick Ruthven.

The Royals would strike first in the bottom of the first on a solo home run from the 1980 American League MVP, George Brett, who put away any concerns from his surgery for hemorrhoids between games two and three.  In the top of the second, Gale would get into trouble, loading the bases on two singles and a walk for Philadelphia rookie, Lonnie Smith.  Smith would ground out to tie the game and Gale would avoid any further damage.

In the bottom of the fourth, the slow-footed Willie Aikens tripled into the left field corner with one out.  Hal McRae then singled in Aikens to give the Royals a 2-1 lead.  The lead, however, was short-lived as 1980 National League MVP, Mike Schmidt, led off the top of the fifth with a solo home run to tie the game.  In the bottom of the seventh, Amos Otis continued his red-hot series with a solo home run to give the Royals a 3-2 lead.  However, the Phillies, like they had all series, came back in the top of the eighth when Pete Rose singled off of Renie Martin, scoring Larry Bowa, to tie the game at three.

Philadelphia would threaten in the top of the tenth off of Royals closer, Dan Quisenberry.  Bob Boone led off with a single and then was sacrificed to second with one out.  Quisenberry then intentionally walked Rose to bring up Schmidt, who had homered earlier in the game.  Schmidt scolded a ball to Frank White at second, who caught the line drive and caught Boone off of second for an inning-ending double play.

In the bottom of the tenth, U.L. Washington led off with a single.  Willie Wilson then walked, bringing Frank White to the plate with the winning run on second and nobody out.  Washington, however, decided to try to steal third, but was thrown out by Boone.  After Washington was caught stealing, White struck out and a game-winning rally seemed dead.  That would bring Brett to the plate with Wilson on first representing the winning run.  Wilson would steal second and the Phillies would walk Brett to set-up a Tug McGraw – Willie Aikens match-up.  On a two balls, one strike count, Aikens hit a deep drive into left-center field gap that went over the head of Phillies centerfielder, Garry Maddox, scoring Wilson and winning the game, 4-3.  It was the first walk-off victory in Royals postseason history and the Royals first win in the World Series in their history.  The win also cut the Royals deficit in the series to two games to one.

#8:  2015 World Series, Game 1 – Kansas City Royals 5, New York Mets 4 (14 Innings)

In their previous three Game 1’s, the Royals were a combined 0-3, losing in Philadelphia and at home versus St. Louis and San Francisco.  The Royals looked to get off to a fast start against a New York Mets team that had power arms throughout their rotation.  They would do just that.

The Royals would send thirteen game winner, Edinson Volquez, to the hill with the question if he knew that his father had just passed away.  He would face off against the Mets ace, Matt Harvey.  In the bottom of the first, on the very first pitch of the World Series for the Royals, ALCS MVP Alcides Escobar hit a fly ball to the left-center field gap.  Mets centerfielder, Yoenis Cespades, took a bad route to the ball and the ball hit off of his foot and kicked into left field.  The kick into left field allowed the speedy Escobar to circle the bases for the first inside-the-park home run in a World Series since 1929 and the first one to lead off a World Series game since 1903, giving the Royals an early 1-0 lead.

After three scoreless innings from Volquez, the Mets scored one run each in the fourth, fifth, and sixth off of Volquez to take a 3-1.  Then the Royals, who made their calling card of coming-from-behind all postseason, struck for two in the bottom of the sixth on a sacrifice fly from Eric Hosmer, driving in Ben Zobrist, and a single from Mike Moustakas, scoring Lorenzo Cain, to tie it at three.

The score remained tied until the top of the eighth.  Royals reliever, Kelvin Herrera, got two quick outs in the inning.  Then lost a nine-pitch battle to Juan Lagares, who stole second, and then scored on a rare error by Hosmer at first.  

The Royals threatened in the eighth with a lead-off double from Zobrist off of Mets reliever, Tyler Clippard.  Clippard then bore down and struck out Cain and Hosmer before a wild pitch got Zobrist to third and a walk Kendrys Morales put runners on the corners.  Mets skipper, Terry Collins, then brought in their closer, Jeurys Familia, to put an end to the threat.

With the Royals two outs away from losing their fourth consecutive World Series Game 1, one of the longest tenured Royals, Alex Gordon, stepped to the plate.  Familia had not allowed a run in the postseason, however, on a one ball, one strike pitch, Gordon drove a ball well over the center field wall to tie the game at four.

The game went into extra innings, where both teams had to use members of their starting rotations to finish the game.  Royals skipper, Ned Yost, went with scheduled Game 4 starter, Chris Young, who pitched three hitless innings.  Then, in the bottom of the fourteenth, Escobar reached on a throwing error by Mets third baseman, David Wright and went to third on Zobrist’s single.  After an intentional walk to Cain, Hosmer came to the plate with the bases loaded and looking for redemption.  On a two ball, two strike pitch, Hosmer hit a fly ball to deep right field.  Mets right fielder, Curtis Granderson, made a perfect throw to the plate, however, Escobar beat the throw in plenty of time for a walk-off victory in the fourteenth, giving the Royals a one game lead in the series.  The fourteen inning game is tied for the longest game in World Series history and is the longest game in Royals postseason history.

#7:  2015 American League Championship Series, Game 6 – Kansas City Royals 4, Toronto Blue Jays 3

The Royals were one win away from advancing to the World Series for the second year in a row.  The only thing standing in their way was the highest scoring team in the American League in the Toronto Blue Jays and Mother Nature.

With the Royals leading the series, three games to two, the series shifted back to Kansas City where the Royals won games one and two with the Blue Jays taking two of three in Toronto.  Royals skipper, Ned Yost, would send Yordano Ventura, who had a great postseason in 2014 for the Royals, to the mound to face off against Toronto ace, David Price.

The Royals got off to a quick start, with solo home runs from Ben Zobrist in the first inning and Mike Moustakas in the second inning, to take a 2-0 lead.  In the top of the fourth, however, Blue Jays slugger and former Royal, Jose Bautista, crushed a solo home run to cut the Royals lead in half, 2-1.

The Royals would add on a run in the bottom of the seventh on a RBI single from Alex Rios, scoring Moustakas, and giving the Royals a 3-1 lead.  That insurance run would prove valuable as Ned Yost brought in his set-up man, Ryan Madson, to get through the eighth inning with rain looming in the distance.  After giving up a lead-off infield single to Ben Revere, the heart of the Toronto lineup stepped into the box beginning with American League MVP, Josh Donaldson.  Madson would strike out Donaldson looking for the first out, however, Bautista, who homered earlier in the game, hit a pitch into the left field stands and tied the game a three.  Madson followed up the home run with a walk to Edwin Encarnacion and Yost then brought in his All-Star closer, Wade Davis.  Davis would get a popout and a strike out to end the eighth, but, the damage had been done.  

After the eighth inning, the umpires called for the tarp as the rain hit, delaying the game for forty-five minutes and making a tough decision for Yost on whether or not he could bring his closer back into the game for the ninth inning.

After the rain delay, Blue Jays skipper, John Gibbons, brought in his closer, Roberto Osuna, to keep the game tied heading into the ninth.  Lorenzo Cain led off the eighth inning with a lead off walk.  Eric Hosmer then stepped to the plate and, on a two ball, two strike count hit a ball into the right field corner.  Jose Bautista got to the ball quickly to cut off a double for Hosmer, however, his throw went to second base.  While Bautista threw to second, Cain did not slow down going towards third and third base coach, Mike Jirschele, waved Cain home.  Blue Jays shortstop, Troy Tulowitzski, turned and threw to home, however, Cain beat the throw easily, scoring from first base on a single, to give the Royals a 4-3 lead.

With the Royals three outs away from their second consecutive American League Pennant, Ned Yost decided to bring Davis back out to complete the ninth.  Having not pitched for an hour, Davis quickly gave up a single to Russell Martin, who was pinch-ran for by Dalton Pompey.  Pompey promptly stole second and third base, putting the tying run on third with nobody out.  Davis then walked Kevin Pillar, putting the go-ahead run at first with nobody out.  Davis would then strike out Dioner Navarro, with Pillar stealing second.  The Blue Jays now had two runners in scoring position with only one out and the top of the order coming up.  Davis would then strike out Ben Revere, setting up a match-up between Wade Davis, the best closing pitcher in baseball, versus Josh Donaldson, the best player in the American League.  On a two ball, one strike pitch, Davis would get Donaldson to ground to Moustakas, who would fire on to Hosmer at first to clinch the American League Pennant.  This would be the first time in Royals history that they would win back-to-back Pennants.

#6:  2015 World Series, Game 5 – Kansas City Royals 7, New York Mets 2 (12 innings)

The Royals were 27 outs aways from their second World Series title in team history, leading the New York Mets three games to one in the 2015 World Series.  The Mets, however, would not go down quietly, fighting in front of a home crowd with their ace, Matt Harvey, on the mound.

The Mets got off to a quick start versus Royals starter, Edinson Volquez, who had just returned to the team after attending his father’s funeral in the Dominican Republic.  Mets lead-off hitter, Curtis Granderson, led off the Mets first with a solo home run to give the Mets a 1-0 lead.  After the lead-off home run, Volquez would quickly settle down and trade zeros with Harvey until the sixth, when the Mets loaded the bases with nobody out.  Volquez would wiggle out of trouble, only giving up one run, as the Royals found themselves in familiar territory, trailing going into the seventh 2-0.

After eight innings, Mets skipper, Terry Collins, was ready to bring in their closer, Jeurys Familia, with the Mets three out from earning a return trip to Kansas City.  However, Harvey had other ideas, pleading with his manager to let him stay in the game.  Collins, perhaps against his better judgment, would let Harvey start the ninth.  

Harvey immediately walked Lorenzo Cain, who stole second as well, to bring up the tying run in the person of Eric Hosmer.  On a no ball, one strike pitch, Hosmer drove a ball to the opposite field, over the head of Michael Conforto, for a RBI double, cutting the Royals deficit to 2-1, ending Harvey’s night.  After a ground ball from Mike Moustakas got Hosmer to third with one out, Salvador Perez stepped to the plate with the tying run on third and one out.  With the infield in, Perez hit a chopper to third baseman, David Wright.  Wright failed to look Hosmer back to third, who had a big lead off the base, and fired onto first baseman, Lucas Duda, for the out.  On the throw, however, Hosmer broke for the plate.  Duda pivoted towards home with Hosmer chugging down the line.  Duda’s throw, however, went wide of Travis d’Arnaud’s glove and Hosmer scored the tying run.

After two innings in which the two teams traded zeros, Salvador Perez led off the twelfth with a single.  Jarrod Dyson pinch ran for Perez and immediately stole second.  After Alex Gordon got Dyson to third on a ground out, Christian Colon stepped to the plate for the first time in the postseason.  Colon, who played a big role in the twelfth inning of the Royals 2014 Wild Card Game, delivered with a RBI single, giving the Royals a 3-2 lead.  The Royals would tack on four more runs to give closer, Wade Davis, a 7-2 lead and put the Royals three outs away from a World Series title.  Davis would close out the World Series by striking out the side and closing out arguably the best season in Royals history.  This game would be Kansas City’s eighth comeback of the postseason.  Christian Colon’s RBI single made him only the third pinch hitter to drive in the game-winning run to win a World Series (one of the other two is the man who greeted him at first, Royals first base coach, Rusty Kuntz).  Hosmer also became only the second person in World Series history to score the tying run in the ninth inning on a ground out.  The win would give the Royals their second World Championship in team history.

#5:  1985 American League Championship Series, Game 3 – Kansas City Royals 6, Toronto Blue Jays 5

Entering Game 3 of the 1985 American League Championship Series, the Royals had lost ten consecutive postseason games (2 – 1980 World Series vs. Phillies, 3 – 1981 ALDS vs. A’s, 3 – 1984 ALCS vs. Detroit, and first two games of 1985 ALCS).  The only streak that beat that was Royals manager, Dick Howser, whose own personal streak was at eleven.

After losing the first two games in the new best-of-seven format, the Royals would need their Hall-of-Famer to step up and give the performance of his life.  George Brett would do just that.

The Royals would send their young ace, twenty game winner Bret Saberhagen, to the mound to face-off against Doyle Alexander in a must-win scenario.  

The Royals would get off to a quick start in the bottom of the first with Brett hitting a solo home run to give the Royals a 1-0 lead.  George would also flash the leather in the top of the third, when he took away extra bases Lloyd Moseby and gunned Damaso Garcia at the plate with what would have been the tying run.

In the fourth, Brett doubled to lead-off the inning, went to third on a flyball from Hal McRae, and scored on a Frank White sacrifice fly, giving the Royals a 2-0 lead.

In the top of the fifth, disaster struck for the Royals as Saberhagen gave up two two-run home runs and a RBI single to give the Blue Jays a 5-2 lead.

With the Royals down three runs, and endanger of being down three games, Royals catcher, Jim Sundberg, would answer in the bottom half of the inning with a solo home run to cut the deficit to 5-3.  After Royals reliever, Steve Farr, got the Blue Jays in order in the sixth, Willie Wilson came up to lead off the bottom of the inning with a single.  Bringing up the tying run in George Brett in a crucial spot and, for the second time in the game, Brett would take Alexander deep to tie the game at five.  

In the bottom of the eighth, Brett would lead-off with a single, be sacrificed to second by McRae, advance to third on a groundout by White, and, after an intentional walk to Pat Sheridan, would score on a bloop single from slugger Steve Balboni, giving the Royals a 6-5 lead, a lead that would hold up as Steve Farr got the Blue Jays in order in the ninth to cut the series deficit in half, two games to one.  This would be the first postseason win for manager Dick Howser, and, George Brett’s performance would become a thing of legend.  George finished 4-for-4 with three-quarters of the cycle, with two home runs, three runs batted in, and four runs scored.  George performed in the clutch, both at the plate and in the field, in what would become one of the biggest games in Royals history.

#4:  2015 American League Division Series, Game 4 – Kansas City Royals 9, Houston Astros 6

The Royals entered the 2015 postseason with the best record in the American League and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.  However, they were in a battle for their postseason lives in a match-up against a young, but, very talented Houston team that would test the Royals to their limits.

In the best-of-five series, the Astros held a two games to one series lead heading into Game 4.  The Astros had to win on their home-field for a trip to the American League Championship Series, the Royals had to win to force a winner-take-all Game 5 in Kansas City.  The story was set and the drama did not disappoint.

The Royals sent their Game 1 starter, Yordano Ventura, to the hill to face the Astros Lance McCullers.

After the teams traded zeroes in the first, the Royals would get two on a two-run home run from Salvador Perez to give the Royals a 2-0 lead.  The Astros would get one back in the bottom half of the inning on a Carlos Gomez solo home run and would tie the game in the third on Carlos Correa’s solo home run.

In the fifth inning, after getting two quick outs, Ventura walked George Springer and then gave up a double into the right field corner to Correa, scoring Springer and giving the Astros a 3-2 lead.

In the eighth inning, Royals reliever, Ryan Madson, imploded.  With one out and one on, Carlos Correa stepped to the plate, having done plenty of damage already, hit a two-run home run to give the Astros a 5-2 lead.  Colby Rasmus followed that up with a solo home run and the Astros held a 6-2 lead and were six outs away from advancing to the ALCS.

The story that comes next is a story of resilience.  Down to their final six outs, Mike Moustakas came into the dugout shouting “I’m not ready to go home”.  Then the Royals would display the grit that had got them to this point.

Alex Rios led off the inning with a single to left.  Alcides Escobar then singled to center, advancing Rios to second.  Ben Zobrist kept the line moving with a single to load the bases with nobody out.  Next, Lorenzo Cain singled in Rios, cutting the deficit to 6-3.  Eric Hosmer would make it five straight singles to open the inning, driving in Escobar, making it a 6-4 game.  With the bases loaded and, still, nobody out, in stepped in the power-hitting Kendrys Morales.  Morales hit a ball that glanced off of Astros reliever Tony Sipp’s glove and straight to Carlos Correa in what looked to be a sure double play.  However, Correa took his eye off the ball a little too soon and the ball skimmed off his glove and into center field to tie the game a six.  Correa, who just an inning earlier had played the role of hero, now played the role of goat as Alex Gordon would drive in a run on a ground ball, scoring Hosmer, and giving the Royals a 7-6 lead.  Hosmer would add a two-run home run in the ninth for insurance for closer, Wade Davis, to give the Royals a 9-6 victory and setting up a winner-take-all Game 5.  Things were so bad for the Royals that, after the Carlos Gomez single in the eighth, projections gave them a 2% chance of winning.  The win would foreshadow things to come for the Royals in the postseason and would create a new term “Keep the Line Moving”.

#3:  1980 American League Championship Series, Game 3 – Kansas City Royals 4, New York Yankees 2

You can only take so much from a bully before you just punch them in the face.  The Yankees were the Royals bully, having beaten the Royals in three consecutive American League Championship Series’.  In 1980, however, things were looking good for the Royals after winning the first two games in Kansas City.  However, with the Royals needing one more victory to win their first American League Pennant, the series shifted to the house of horrors known as Yankee Stadium for the final three games.

Game 3 was a match-up between Yankee killer, Paul Splittorff, and the Yankees Tommy John.  Both lefty pitchers traded zeroes through the first four innings.  That changed when Royals second baseman, Frank White, stepped to the plate.  White, who was already have a terrific series, hit a solo home run into the left field stands to give the Royals an early 1-0 lead.

 

In the bottom of the sixth, Royals closer, Dan Quisenberry, relieved Splittorff after a one out double by Reggie Jackson.  Oscar Gamble then hit an infield single and advanced on an error by White, scoring Jackson and tying the game at one.  Rick Cerone would then single to left, scoring Gamble and giving the Yankees a 2-1 lead.

Quisenberry would stop the bleeding there and the Yankees were now nine outs away from cutting the deficit to two games to one.  In the top of the seventh, the Royals would strike back.  After Tommy John got two quick outs, Willie Wilson doubled to right.  U.L. Washington would then reach on an infield single to put runners on the corners with two out for George Brett, who was the 1980 American League Batting Champion and who had a knack for postseason dramatics.  Brett was facing the Yankees closer, Rich “Goose” Goosage and on the first pitch from Goosage, changed the course of the game and the Royals franchise by hitting a three-run home run into the upper deck of Yankees Stadium, giving Quisenberry and the Royals a 4-2 lead.

 

The Yankees, with their season on the line, would not go quietly into the night.  In the eighth, a lead-off triple from Bob Watson, followed by walks to Jackson and Gamle, loaded the bases with nobody out.  In stepped Cerone with a chance to tie the game or take the lead.  However, Quisenberry would get Cerone to line out to Washington at short, who would flip to White at second for a double play to get Jackson, who was too far off of second base.  Quisenberry would then get pinch hitter, Jim Spencer, to ground out to White and end the inning with the 4-2 lead still intact.

The Royals were now three outs away from their first World Series.  In the ninth, the only drama was the celebration after Quisenberry struck out Willie Randolph, earning the Royals their first American League Pennant in the franchise’s history.  Frank White would be named the 1980 ALCS MVP, however, Brett’s heroics finally vanquished the “evil empire”.  The Royals punched the bully in the face.

#2:  1985 World Series, Game 6 – Kansas City Royals 2, St. Louis Cardinals 1

No team in the history of baseball had ever lost the first two games at home in a World Series and come back to win it all.  The Royals were trying to become the first to do so.

After taking two of three games in St. Louis, the series shifted back to Kansas City for Game 6.  The Royals sent “Hard Luck” Charlie Leibrandt to the mound, who pitched great in Game 2 only to be let down by his offense and bad luck in the ninth.  Leibrandt, in twenty-six and two-thirds innings in four previous postseason starts, had a total of three runs of support from his offense.

This trend would continue for Leibrandt, unfortunately.  The Royals did threaten in the first inning, after a lead-off double from Lonnie Smith and went to third on a ground out.  However, Cardinals pitcher, Danny Cox would strike out George Brett and get Frank White to ground out to avoid any damage.

Controversy struck in the fourth, with one out, White got on with a bunt single.  On a two balls, one strike pitch, White took off for second and was called out by umpire, Bill Williams.  The replay of the call, however, showed White was safe.  The call, however, stood and instead of a runner on second and one out, the bases were empty with two out.  Two pitches later, Pat Sheridan singled to right, which would have most likely scored White and given the Royals the lead.

Both Leibrandt and Cox traded zeroes through seven innings.  Then, in the eighth, the Cardinals pushed across a run after a single by Terry Pendleton, a walk by Cesar Cedano, and a bloop single by pinch hitter Brian Harper, to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead and putting them six outs away from another World Championship.  Leibrandt walked Ozzie Smith to load the bases, forcing Royals manager, Dick Howser, to go to closer, Dan Quisenberry.  Quisenberry would then get Willie McGee to ground into a force out to stop the bleeding.

In a pitcher’s duel, you need breaks to go your way.  Finally, in the ninth, breaks went to the Royals.  Trailing 1-0, Jorge Orta pinch hit for Darryl Motley while facing the hard throwing Todd Worrell.  Orta hit a chopper towards first base.  Jack Clark fielded, flipped to Worrell, and Orta was ruled safe by umpire Don Denkinger.  Worrell immediately began arguing and was quickly joined by manager, Whitey Herzog.  Replays would show that Orta was out by half a step, however, like the call in the fourth inning that went against the Royals, this call stood for the Royals.

After the Orta single, Royals slugger Steve Balboni stood in representing the winning run.  Balboni hit a foul pop towards the Royals first base dugout.  The ball was playable, however, Clark and Cardinals catcher, Darrell Porter, got crossed up and the ball dropped harmlessly for a foul ball.  Balboni would then single, putting two on with no out.  Royals catcher, Jim Sundberg, would try a sacrifice bunt, however, Worrell fielded quickly and threw to third for the out.  Now runners were on first and second with one out.  The Royals would call on Hal McRae to pinch hit for Buddy Biancalana.  However, Worrell would throw a wild pitch to allow Onix Concepcion, pinch running for Balboni, and Jim Sundberg to second and third.  Herzog then decided to put McRae on to set up the double play.

Sometimes a hero comes in the most unlikely people.  Dane Iorg, who had a terrific postseason with St. Louis in 1982, stepped to the plate to pinch hit for Quisenberry.  Iorg took a pitch, and then, on a one ball, no strike count, Iorg blooped a single into right field.  Concepcion scored the tying run with Sundberg barrelling down the third base line.  Andy Van Slyke fielded and came up throwing.  Slyke’s throw was on the money, however, Sundberg’s slide was better and he scored the winning run, forcing a Game 7 the next night.  The Royals would go onto win Game 7 and would become the first team in history to win the World Series after losing the first two at home.

#1:  2014 American League Wild Card Game – Kansas City Royals 9, Oakland Athletics 8 (12 innings)

Twenty-nine years is a long time.  From 1985 to 2014, the Space Shuttle program had ended, two Bushes had occupied the White House, and the United States had been to war with Iraq twice.  Also, the Royals had not been to the postseason.

Then there comes moments that define a franchise.  In 1976, the Royals finally got beat out the Athletics for the American League Western Division.  In 1980, the Royals finally defeated the New York Yankees for the American League Pennant.  In 1985, the Royals finally captured the long, elusive World Series trophy.  Then, in 1994, the strike ended a promising Royals season that looked like it would end in a postseason berth.  From 1995 to 2013, the Royals would have only two winning seasons.  Then came 2014, and the Royals clinched the first Wild Card spot, hosting the winner-take-all Wild Card game at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals would send their ace, James Shields, to the mound to face long-time nemesis, Jon Lester.  Oakland struck quickly in the first on a two-run home run from Brandon Moss.  However, the Royals would answer right back in the bottom half of the inning on a RBI single from Billy Butler, scoring Nori Aoki and, after one, the score was 2-1 A’s.  

In the bottom of the third, the Royals tied the game on a RBI double from Lorenzo Cain and then take the lead on a RBI single from Eric Hosmer.

The Royals were three outs away from getting to their lock-down bullpen of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland.  However, that would not come easy.  After a single from Sam Fuld and a walk to Josh Donaldson, Ned Yost went to one of his starters to get through the fifth, Yordano Ventura.  Ventura then gave up a three-run home run to Brandon Moss, his second home run of the game, to give the A’s a 5-3 lead.  Oakland would add two more to take a 7-3 lead.

Things looked bleak for the Royals, as Lester had settled in and the Royals were down to their final six outs.  This is where the Royals revived a fan base in desperate need of a winner.

Alcides Escobar led off the eighth with a single.  He would steal second and advance to third on Aoki’s ground out.  Cain would drive in Escobar on a single, cutting the deficit to 7-4.  Cain then stole second and Hosmer drew a walk, putting runners on first and second with one out and the tying run coming to the plate in Billy Butler.  Butler singled to right, scoring Cain and making it a 7-5 game.  That would drive Lester out of the ballgame in favor of Luke Gregerson.  With Hosmer on third and Terrance Gore, who pinch ran for Butler, one first, Alex Gordon stepped to the plate.  Gore stole second, the third stolen base of the inning, and then Gregerson would uncork a wild pitch, scoring Hosmer to make it a 7-6 game.  Gregerson would avoid further damage, however, the Royals were now down only one.

After Holland worked around three walks, the Royals still trailed by one going into the ninth.  Josh Willingham, pinch hitting for Mike Moustakas, led off the ninth with a single.  Jarrod Dyson, one of the fastest players in baseball, would pinch run for Willingham.  Dyson was sacrificed to second by Escobar.  Then, he boldly took off for third, successfully stealing third with only one out.  On the next pitch, Aoki hit a fly ball to right deep enough to score Dyson and tie the game at seven.

The game went into extra innings, where the Royals would rely on rookie reliever Brandon Finnegan, who just months earlier had been pitching in the College World Series for TCU, to get them some quality innings.  He would do just that, giving the Royals two and one-third innings and getting some big strike outs along the way.  

In the twelfth, however, the A’s would score on a RBI single from former Royal, Alberto Callaspo.  However, like they had all night, the Royals would come back.  With one out, Eric Hosmer tripled high off the left field wall and would score on Christian Colon’s single to tie the game at eight.  With two outs, Colon stole second, the Royals seventh of the night, with Salvador Perez at the plate.  Perez had looked lost all night and was 0-for-5 going into his at-bat against Jason Hammel.  On a two ball, two strike pitch, Perez would lace a ball down the third base line, just past an outstretched from Josh Donaldson at third, that would score Colon and give the Royals and improbable 9-8 victory.  The Royals stole seven bases in the game from seven different players, five of which would score.  Eric Hosmer joined George Brett as the only players in Royals history to safely reach base five times in a playoff game.  The game would also tie for the longest winner-take-all game in postseason history, with Game 7 of the 1924 World Series.

What would follow would be eight straight wins to start the postseason.  The Royals would go 22-9 over the next two seasons in the postseasons, winning two Pennants and a World Series.  This game would change the course franchise.  The team who once lost one hundred games in four of five seasons and who hadn’t been to the postseason in nearly three decades had erased the loser label.

That’s the list.  Thoughts?  Agree or disagree?  Anyway, I hope this helps you enjoy October a little more.

 

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Christopher Till

Author: Christopher Till

Christopher is a lifelong Royals fan who loves long walks on the beach, sunsets, and trips to #DongTown. He also loves writing about the Royals (pants optional). Ian Kennedy once ruined a perfect game Chris had going (though, to be fair, Chris' pitch came before the game with nobody in the batter's box). His favorite Royals' memory is sitting in Section 401 with his daughter when Salvador Perez laced a line drive past Josh Donaldson to win the 2014 American League Wild Card Game.

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