The Royals are celebrating their 50th season. The following is a Top 50 list of the greatest moments in Royals history. Today is 25-21
25. Edinson Volquez’s emotional 2015 World Series
There are some things in baseball, and in life, that go beyond the boxscore. The 2015 World Series for Edinson Volquez was one of those things.
The Royals signed Volquez before the 2015 season. The one-time all-star had seen his numbers balloon after the 2008 season. However, he saw a career resurrection with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2014, earning him the start in the 2014 National League Wild Card Game for the Pirates. In 2015, Volquez had one of his best season for the Royals, going 13-9 with a 3.55 ERA and pitching over 200 innings for the first time in his career. Volquez had pitched well in the postseason, including tossing six scoreless innings against the best offense in baseball, the Toronto Blue Jays, in a Game 1 victory.
All this earned “Steady Eddy” the honor of a Game 1 start in the World Series. However, just moments before the game, everything was thrown in doubt when ESPN’s Enrique Rojas reported that Edinson’s father had passed away before the game. The only Royals who knew about Volquez’s father’s death were Dayton Moore, Ned Yost, Dave Eiland, and Chris Young (who had lost his father only a month before). Volquez’s family didn’t want to tell him before the game.
Volquez would pitch six innings, giving up three runs in a quality start that would keep his team in the game for a late-game comeback and a win.
After he was pulled from the game, he was told of his father’s death. He left the team to go back to the Dominican Republic for his father’s funeral. He came back just in time for Game 5, where he would start just days after his dad’s death.
With his dad weighing heavily on his mind, Volquez would pitch a great game, giving up two runs (one earned) over six innings while striking out five. He had a situation in the sixth where the Mets had the bases loaded on no outs and they only scored one run. That would be huge for the Royals as they would again stage a late-game comeback to win the World Series.
It’s hard to imagine a pitcher making this list with a 3.00 ERA and no wins in the World Series make this list. However, baseball heals.
24. Johnny Cueto dominates Mets in 2015 World Series
The 2015 Kansas City Royals were nearly perfect. They had a solid starting rotation, a shutdown bullpen, and a lineup so balanced that Alex Gordon (before he struggled to hit the Mendoza Line) was batting eighth when he would be hitting fifth or sixth in most lineups.
At the trade deadline, Dayton Moore pushed all his chips to the center of the table and traded for Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist.
Cueto struggled in the regular season for the Royals, posting a 4-7 record with a 4.76 ERA. Those numbers would lead Royals fans to worry about his performance in the postseason.
Heading into the World Series, Cueto had been up and down in the ALDS and ALCS. He was roughed up early in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Houston Astros before settling in. In a winner-take-all Game 5 against Houston, Cueto threw eight innings, giving up two runs on only two hits while striking out eight. After a Luis Valbuena home run in the second, Cueto set down nineteen straight hitters. Cueto was knocked around in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Toronto Blue Jays, so, Royals fans were leery about what they would be from him in Game 2 of the World Series.
After winning Game 1 in fourteen innings, both teams needed a good start from their starting pitchers to save their bullpens. Johnny Cueto would face the Mets all-star pitcher, Jacob deGrom.
Cueto would answer the call, pitching arguably the best game in Royals postseason history. While deGrom would not make it through five innings, Johnny Cueto would go the distance. His complete game being the first complete game by an American League pitcher since Jack Morris in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. His final line:
9 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 4 K
This game allowed Ned Yost to rest his bullpen and get set for the next three games and the final push for the World Series title.
23. Steve Busby throws 2 No-Hitters
Royals pitchers have hurled four no-hitters in their franchise’s history. Half of them came from one pitcher, in his first two seasons.
New Royals fans may not know a lot about Busby, however, Busby was one of the best pitchers in the early 1970s before injuries took their toll and shortened his career. Busby only pitched in eight seasons, of which only three were full seasons, however he was responsible for two of the biggest moments in Royals history.
On April 27th, 1973, Steve Busby took the mound at hitter at Tiger Stadium in Detroit. Tiger Stadium was not known for being a pitcher’s park, however, Busby would be effectively wild. Despite walking six Tigers hitters, Busby baffled the Tigers at the plate no-hitting the Tigers in a 3-0 victory. The no-hitter was surprising, given that Busby, in his previous outing, only lasted one inning and his ERA was 8.04 before the game.
1974 would be the first of Busby’s two All-Star Game appearances and would also bring the second of his no-hitters. On June 19th, 1974 at County Stadium in Milwaukee, Busby faced off against the Brewers. After a 1-2-3 first inning, Busby walked George Scott to begin the second. That would be the only runner the Brewers would have the entire game. Busby retired the next twenty-four batters, keeping Milwaukee hitters completely off-balanced. Busby would no-hit the Brewers in a 2-0 game. Busby would become the twenty-fourth pitcher to hurt multiple no-hitters and the first pitcher in Major League Baseball history to hurl a no-hitter in each of his first two seasons.
Busby would make the All-Star Game again in 1975, his final full season in baseball before a torn rotator cuff ended his career. What could have been with Busby remains a great mystery with the Royals. Had he stayed healthy, the Royals may have won the American League Pennant at least once between 1976-1978 and the 1980 World Series may have ended with a different result.
However, Busby’s career should be a reminder of how success can be fleeting and how you should appreciate greatness when it is upon you.
22. Bo Jackson Says Hello!
The Major League Baseball All-Star Game is an exhibition where the best of the best (though some of the Royals all-stars would test that through the next three decades) play in a display of what the game should be.
Nine Hall-of-Famers would play in the game (the two managers would also be inducted into the Hall-of-Fame) and the lineups were chalked full of stars. The one star stood out was Vincent “Bo” Jackson.
Bo Jackson was amid his best big-league season in 1989. Jackson was already a 20-20 guy by the all-star break (twenty-one home runs and twenty-three stolen bases) and was elected by the fans to start the game. Tony La Russa batted Jackson leadoff in the game. In the top of the inning, Jackson robbed Pedro Guerrero of two runs batted in with a diving catch in left-center. Bo was just getting started.
Jackson led off against veteran sinker-baller, Rick Reuschel. The first pitch to Jackson was a sinkerball below the knees for ball one. The second one was a sinker at the knees, not a bad pitch from Reuschel, that Bo hit 456-feet to dead center field for a leadoff home run. The legendary Vin Scully was on the call and was interviewing former President Ronald Regan when what sound like a cannon came off the bat of Jackson. All President Regan could say was “Hey” with Vin Scully adding “Bo Jackson says hello”.
Bo would add another RBI on a force-out in the second, would steal a base, and add a single to his line. On the night when Nike unveiled the “Bo Knows” campaign, he would finish:
2-4, 2 RBI, 1 HR, 1 SB
Jackson would become the first Royal to earn the All-Star Game’s Most Valuable Player Award. In a night that had many stars, Jackson’s star was the brightest of them all.
21. Darryl Motley sets the tone!
The 1985 Kansas City Royals were the cardiac kids. All season long the Royals had to play comeback. They had to comeback from seven-games down in the division race to overtake the California Angels. The had to comeback from down 3-1 in the American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays to win the American League Pennant. They trailed the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-1, in the World Series only to come storming back to tie the series at three.
Game 7 was played at Royals Stadium with the Cardinals ace, John Tudor (who already had two wins over the Royals in the series) against Bret Saberhagen, who won Game 3. After a scoreless first inning, Steve Balboni walked with one out in the second inning.
Darryl Motley stepped in against the lefty Tudor. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Motley hammered a ball over the foul pole down the left-field line. It was hit so high that it went over the foul pole and was ruled foul.
Motley, who was going down the line in a similar shuffle to Carlton Fisk in the 1975 World Series, picked up his bat and cracked his bat. As he stepped back into the box, he noticed the crack in his bat and asked for a new one. With a new bat, Motley received the exact same pitch again, this time with a different result. Motley drilled it down the line, fair, for a two-run home run and a 2-0 lead.
From that point on, the Royals would be off to the races against Tudor and the Cardinals in route to a moment that will appear later in the list.
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