Royals’ Speed Can Change a Game – and the Season
Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
I’m not sure I can accurately explain how the Royals won last night. I mean, I can tell you that they scored more runs than the White Sox, but I don’t think there are enough words to really articulate how it actually happened. So before I make any kind of feeble attempt at it, you should just watch these videos. First, there was this:
Followed by this:
And then, there was this:
Baseball is a silly, silly game.
Before that 9th inning, the Royals were mostly shut down by John Danks, a pitcher who entered the game with an ERA over 5. This was a familiar story for the offense lately: they had a few opportunities to do damage, but for much of the evening, they looked listless at the plate. Following a disastrous series against the Red Sox, this was not what the team needed.
With the Tigers bursting ahead of the Twins early on, it was imperative for the Royals’ offense to show up, and yet, they seemed destined to fall another game back, putting themselves behind the hypothetical 8-ball. The season wasn’t over, of course, but the game had that strange feeling to it. That feeling that the Royals might slip into a 6-game coma, dropping into a hole too difficult to climb out of. The Royals found themselves in a crucial moment, needing someone to step up.
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Luckily for them, they had several someones do so.
A double by Mike Moustakas. A stolen base by Jarrod Dyson. A wild pitch. Tie game.
The Royals’ season, which has been full of so many ups and downs that a real-life Royalcoaster wouldn’t be declared safe enough for any human to actually ride, had just been altered by a double from the team’s most criticized player, followed by a wild pitch.
And that wasn’t even the craziest play of the inning.
Nori Aoki followed up with his 4th hit of the night, and Terrance Gore entered the game as a pinch runner. Lorenzo Cain has made a habit of collecting infield singles on a nightly basis, and he came through once again. The high chopper was more than enough for Gore to reach home before the White Sox middle infielders could get a hold of the ball.
According to our own Aaron Reese, it took Gore only 5.234 seconds to get home. Insert a quote about speed doing something here.
With two outs, and the Royals’ backs against a wall, they scratched and clawed their way to a much-needed victory, in a way only the Royals could orchestrate. They scored two runs on plays in which the runners traveled 180 feet in a flash, while the ball never even left the infield. A crushing defeat was staring them directly in the eyes, and somehow – somehow – they didn’t blink.
Instead, they showed off one of the elite skills they possess, and with the help of a little luck, Gore scampered across home plate and leaped into Alex Gordon‘s arms, in the same way a child embraces his father at the end of a school day.
If the Royals do indeed make the playoffs, that moment of insane speed, followed by incredible joy, will find itself onto the season’s highlight reel, and deservedly so.
Of course, it all started with a strong performance from James Shields. He pitched extremely well, even if the box score didn’t show that at first glance. Shields allowed far too many hits, but most of them were not struck well, and the three runs he gave up were the result of some bad luck on batted balls.
Funny how that works out.
I’ve seen a lot of baseball in my life. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a game end in that manner, especially considering the ramifications of the result. A loss that seemed so likely just moments earlier, had been transformed into a win in a matter of mere seconds. How likely was that loss?
Following Alcides Escobar‘s ground out, the Royals had a win expectancy of 13.4%. There were two outs, a guy who was the goat a week ago was standing on second base, and someone with a .341 slugging percentage was at the plate. Seven pitches later, the game was over. If those bits of information were the only ones you were given, you would assume the White Sox had closed it out.
Baseball doesn’t make much sense sometimes. But that’s the beauty of it. It doesn’t have to make sense. Sometimes, it looks like a team has no business winning a game, and yet, they win it anyway. Sometimes, weird things happen in baseball, and sometimes, they happen in rapid succession. Fortunately for the Royals, last night was one of those times.
Thanks to arguably the fastest combination of players in all of baseball, the Royals defied the odds and came away with a victory they needed to have, and were able to keep pace with the Tigers, at least for one more night.