What an incredible ride the Kansas City Royals have taken us on in the 2015 postseason. We have seen a clinic in late-inning heroics. We have seen fearless and aggressive play. We have seen tremendous defensive plays that only these Royals could pull off. We have seen the definition of a shut down bullpen. Most importantly, though, we have seen how a team that can stun its passionate fans and leave them on the edge of their seats for the length of a game — no matter how long.
Let’s reflect on some of the best moments we saw on their incredible postseason run. Because there were so many incredible moments, let’s look at two that just missed the cut.
Honorable mention #1: WS Game 1: Alcides Escobar leadoff inside the park home run
What a way to start off the World Series! Alcides Escobar loves to swing at the first pitch of the game and he did just that as he drove a pitch from Matt Harvey. The ball was placed well in the left-center field gap and thanks to some help from some miscommunication between the outfielders the ball was kicked well away from both of them. This play made an early statement and sent the sold out crowd at Kauffman Stadium into a frenzy.
Honorable mention #2: WS Game 5: Edinson Volquez pitching with a heavy heart
Edinson Volquez’s father passed away on Tuesday. Volquez was on the mound for Game 1 and pitched without any idea of what had happened to his father, per his family’s request. He left the team to attend his father’s funeral in the Dominican Republic and would eventually rejoin the team on Saturday for Game 4.
When Volquez took the mound for his Game 5 start, he etched his father’s initials behind the mound. He undoubtedly made his father proud with his performance as he went six strong innings giving up only two hits and one earned run.
Now let’s take a look at the Top 10 Royals 2015 Postseason Moments.
10. ALDS Game 5: Kendrys Morales 3-run home run in the 8th inning to seal series
This bomb that Kendrys Morales golfed out to left-center field provided the dagger that sent the Royals to the ALCS. What made it even better is that he hit it off of likely AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel from the Houston Astros, who had shut down the Royals in Game 3. It made closer Wade Davis’ job a little easier as well, thanks to the insurance, courtesy of Kendrys Morales.
9. ALCS Game 2: Royals finally get to David Price in the 7th inning
The Royals were being dominated by Toronto Blue Jay’s left-hander David Price. Alcides Escobar singled on the first pitch of the game, and after that Price retired 18 straight Royals until the bottom of the 7th inning. It looked like much of the same when Ben Zobrist got under a ball and popped up in the air to right field. However, poor communication between the second baseman and right fielder led to the ball inexplicably dropping.
With Zobrist on and the Royals down by three runs, they went into frenzy hitting mode. They were good for a whopping six hits in the 7th inning, with five coming off of David Price. They quickly turned a 3-0 deficit into 5-3 lead for the Royals bullpen. This was such an important game to put the pressure on Toronto and take a commanding 2-0 series lead before they headed North of the border.
The biggest play of the inning however was a base running play by Eric Hosmer in which he took off for second to stay out of a sure double play of a ball hit by the slow Kendrys Morales. This kept the momentum going and put a man on for Moose to drive in and tie the game at three.
8. WS Game 4: Royals have another late inning rally courtesy of a Murphy error
The Royals trailed the Mets 3-2 in the top of the 8th. Mets manager Terry Collins elected to not bring in shutdown closer Jeurys Familia for a six out save and instead went with Tyler Clippard. Clippard gave up walks to Ben Zobrist and Lorenzo Cain with one out in the inning. Collins then went to Familia to try and close it out.
Eric Hosmer hit a chopper to second baseman Daniel Murphy, who leading up to the World Series was known as Babe Ruth because he had hit seven home runs coming into the Fall Classic. On this play the ball went right under Murphy’s glove and allowed Zobrist to score and tie the game, and Cain to go to third. It looked like on contact that Murphy might have a shot at two, but as the ball got closer it turned into one of those you just want to get an out on. Murphy, who is an average defensive second baseman, couldn’t make the play and it gave the Royals some momentum to be able to tack on two additional runs. Mike Moustakas singled right past Murphy’s outstretched glove to score Cain and then Salvador Perez drove in Hosmer on a line drive to the opposite field.
Ned Yost would not make the same mistake Terry Collins made, as he brought in his closer in the bottom of the 8th to try and record the six out save. Wade Davis would do just that, and give the Royals a commanding 3-1 lead in the World Series.
7. Johnny Cueto’s pair of gems
ALDS Game 5
WS Game 2
The Royals gave up a lot to get Johnny Cueto as a rental, and he wasn’t really what Royals fans were expecting as he struggled for most of his time in KC. The two starts he gave them in the postseason however, made the trade worth it and more.
His first gem was in Game 5 of the ALDS in a winner take all game against the Houston Astros. Cueto gave up a two run bomb early in the game and it looked as if more of the same was in store, but Cueto ended up retiring the final 19 batters in a row. It was one of those special performances that everyone knew Cueto was capable of, but we hadn’t really seen it in a Royals uniform.
His second postseason gem came in Game 2 of the World Series. Unlike his first gem, in this one Johnny Cueto would go the distance, as pitched a two hitter. The crowd was behind him so much as they chanted his name to keep him going. Thanks to the Royals offense he was handed a 7-1 lead entering the 9th, and Ned Yost elected to run him back on the field to a boisterous roar from the Royals fans. Cueto out dueled Mets ace Jacob deGrom to help the Royals take a commanding 2-0 lead as the series shifted to the big apple.
6. ALCS Game 6: Lorenzo Cain scores from first on a single to take the lead
After Jose Bautista hit a two-run home run in the top of the 8th inning to tie the game, the Kauffman Stadium crowd fell silent. Then the rains came at the conclusion of the top of the 8th. It was about an hour long delay and the Royals had to get their heads in the game to be on the attack when they were due up.
The Jays trotted out their 20 year old closer, Roberto Osuna, for the bottom of the 8th inning. Lorenzo Cain got the party started with a walk. That brought up Eric Hosmer, who turned on a 2-2 changeup that he pulled into right field. You knew with Cain’s speed he would get to third no problem. The scouting report on right fielder Jose Bautista is that he throws to second base, instead of the cutoff man. Third base coach Mike Jirschele knew this, and decided to send Cain home with no outs. The shortstop covering second was unable to get the ball home in time to get Cain at the plate.
To quote Kansas City outfielder Jarrod Dyson, “That’s what speed do.”
5. WS Game 5: Christian Colon comes through in the 12th
Who is Christian Colon? That was a question asked to Royals skipper Ned Yost after the game. It’s a fair question. Colon hadn’t appeared in a game the entire postseason. In an extra inning, National League game typically you’re going to be using your entire bench. After a lead-off single by Salvador Perez, stolen base by pinch runner Jarrod Dyson and Alex Gordon groundout to move Dyson up to third with just one away, that brought up the pitcher spot. Ned Yost decided to go with Christian Colon.
On a 1-2 count, Colon got a slider that hung over the middle of the plate and shot a liner into left field that scored the game winning and World Series winning run. It’s crazy to think that a guy like Colon who hadn’t gotten his opportunity all postseason, just had to stay ready. In Game 5 of the World Series Christian Colon got his chance, and in Game 5 of the World Series Christian Colon delivered.
4. ALCS Game 6: Wade Davis strands a man on third with no outs to win the pennant
Lorenzo Cain had just scored in the bottom of the 8th to give the Royals a one run lead. Ned Yost decided to stay with closer Wade Davis for the 9th, who pitched in the 8th after Ryan Madson fell apart. That wasn’t the issue. The issue was the hour long rain delay, and whether he would be good to go after already being warm from throwing pitches.
Davis didn’t come out sharp as he gave up a lead-off single and the Blue Jays put in their speed demon Dalton Pompey. Pompey ripped off two bags to get to third with nobody out. After Davis walked Kevin Pillar to put two on and nobody out, he absolutely seem to find his groove.
Davis struck out Dioner Navarro with a fastball for the first out. He got some help behind the plate on a pitch that looked outside, to turn the count from 3-1 to 2-2 to Ben Revere. Davis then got Revere to strike out on one of the filthiest curveballs you will see. That brought up likely AL MVP Josh Donaldson. It was the best against the best. Donaldson grounded out on a sharp ground ball to Mike Moustakas to send Kansas City to a second straight World Series.
Wader, check please.
3. WS Game 5: Hosmer challenges Duda in 9th to tie game
The Royals came into the 9th inning being shutout by Mets starter Matt Harvey and down two runs. Mets Manager Terry Collins was going to his closer Familia, but Matt Harvey told him he was going back out. It was a decision made by heart instead of by head, and it backfired.
Lorenzo Cain battled and took a leadoff walk. Collins still stuck with his guy. Then Hosmer, who looked bad against Harvey all night came up and drilled an RBI double the opposite way over the right fielder’s head. Mets fans could sense it, here come the Royals again. Collins finally came out to get Harvey and bring in the closer Familia. After Moose was able to move Hosmer to third with just one out it brought up Salvador Perez.
The infield moved in and Salvador Perez hit a chopper to left side that was handled by third baseman David Wright. He checked on Hosmer at third but Hosmer didn’t give any ground. As soon as Wright turned to first base to throw Perez out, Hosmer took off. I think it caught all Royals fans by surprise. If Lucas Duda makes a quality throw, we are headed back to Kansas City with more baseball to be played. Fortunately for Royals fans, he threw the ball wide of the catcher and Hosmer would score easily.
It was an extremely aggressive play, but can you blame him? The odds of the Royals getting a base hit off of Familia are not very good. The Royals did what they have done all year — make the other team make a play to beat them. The Mets were not able to make that play and the Royals came back to tie the game, again.
That was the final chapter of the 2015 postseason comeback kids, the Kansas City Royals.
2. WS Game 1: Alex Gordon homers off of Familia to tie the game
It wasn’t looking good for the Royals in the bottom of the 9th. They trailed by one run, after the two out error by the sure-handed Eric Hosmer that allowed the Mets to jump ahead. Alex Gordon came to the plate against Mets closer Jeurys Familia, who hadn’t blown a save since July 30th. Familia, who is known for quick pitching, did just that on a 1-1 pitch to Alex Gordon, but he left it up and over the middle of the plate and Gordon wouldn’t miss it. Gordon got all of the ball as it was hit 440 feet to straightaway center, something that seemed almost impossible on a damp, cold night on the biggest field there is.
It was such a huge play because you don’t want to go down 1-0 at home, after you gave them a run. This was the second longest World Series game in history and it had just about everything you could think of in it. It took 14 innings to finally settle it as Eric Hosmer was able to get some redemption driving in the winning run on his sacrifice fly.
#1: ALDS Game 4: The Comeback for the Ages
How many of you tweeted that the Royals season was over after Ryan Madson gave up two home runs in the bottom of the 7th to give Houston a 6-2 lead? I was one of those people, but who could blame me for doing so? The Houston crowd was rocking after the back-to-back shots by Carlos Correa and Colby Rasmus.
Kansas City was staring a disappointing first round exit right in the face but the Royals dugout wasn’t having it. Guys were fired up to go out there and start frenzy hitting and keep the line moving. That is exactly what they did.
After three straight singles to load the bases, Lorenzo Cain lined a single to left to cut the deficit to three runs. Then Eric Hosmer floated one into right field to score another. With the bases still loaded and nobody out, Kendrys Morales came to the plate. Morales hit a ground ball up the middle that bounced off the pitchers glove and put a weird spin on the ball for shortstop Carlos Correa. It should have been a sure double play, but the ball took off and got past Correa which scored two. The 21 year old superstar to be Correa, who in this game had hit two home runs to help Houston break away, now found himself as the one that let the ball get by him to really break the inning open for the Royals.
After an excellent at bat from backup catcher from Drew Butera, he loaded the bases with his base on balls. That left it up to Alex Gordon to drive in the go ahead run. With one out the one thing he couldn’t do was hit into a double play. He pulled a ground ball, but it was well placed and a diving Jose Altuve was able to make the stop and throw Gordon out. A run would come across to score to give the Royals a 7-6 lead.
The Royals were dead, but that inning showed why I will remember the 2015 Kansas City Royals as the comeback kids. To fight back in a hostile environment when it would be easier to fold and take an early vacation, is one of the most impressive things you will see. As a Royals fan your mind went back to September 30, 2014. That was the date of the AL Wild Card Game, or maybe the greatest baseball game ever played. The Royals in that game came back from four runs down in the 8th inning as well, and ended up winning it in extras. It was the game that put the Kansas City Royals back on the baseball map. There is no doubt in my mind if the Royals don’t win that Wild Card Game, they are nowhere even close to the team they were this year.
However, the Royals had only a one run lead with six outs to go to force a Game 5 back in Kansas City. When you bring in Wade Davis, you feel a lot better about your chances though. Davis was able to do his job and pitch two scoreless innings. Eric Hosmer added some insurance in the top of the 9th with a two run bomb to right-center field to give the Royals a 9-6 lead. That sent the series back to Kansas City, and as they say the rest is history.