Kansas City Royals win wild comeback in 12 innings


Sep 30, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals center fielder

Jarrod Dyson

(1) celebrates with teammates after scoring to tie the game against the Oakland Athletics during the ninth inning of the 2014 American League Wild Card playoff baseball game at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Playoff baseball in Kansas City doesn’t get any better than this.
Then again, it just might.
Eric Hosmer scored the tying run in the bottom of the 12th and Christian Colon came home on a game-winning single by Salvador Perez.
Brandon Moss, the Oakland Athletics’ designated hitter belted a 2-run home run in the first inning to give the A’s a 2-0 lead. In the bottom of the first, Alcides Escobar singled. Nori Aoki reached as Escobar was forced at second, then stole second with two outs. Eric Hosmer walked and Billy Butler slammed a single to left, scoring Aoki.
With Hosmer at third and Butler at first, Manager Ned Yost elected to send Butler as a distraction to create a delayed steal of home.
Butler, however, took off too early and Jon Lester stepped off, chased down Butler and created a put out at the plate when Hosmer made a no-win attempt to score.

Strike one for Ned.

In the third inning, Mike Moustakas singled to left. Escobar, one of the Royals’ hottest hitters, sacrificed him to second. After an Aoki ground out moved Moustakas to third, Lorenzo Cain ripped a double down the left field line, scoring Moustakas. Hosmer then stuck out his bat and blooped a run-scoring single to left, plating Cain to make it 3-2 Royals.
James Shields meanwhile was on a roll. He had retired seven in a row when he sawed off Sam Fuld‘s bat on a fastball. Fuld managed drop the ball into short right. Trouble had just begun.
Shields walked Josh Donaldson.
After 88 pitches, Yost had seen enough. He opted to bring in rookie starter Yordano Ventura in relief, just two days after Ventura pitched against the Chicago White Sox.
Ventura couldn’t find the strike zone, until he served up a three-run bomb to dead center off the bat of Moss. Josh Reddick singled and moved to second on a wild pitch by Ventura and to third off a fly ball to right by Jed Lowrie.
Kelvin Herrera replaced Ventura and got Stephen Vogt to pop up for the second out.
Just when the damage looked to be minimized, Derek Norris singled home Reddick for a 6-3 lead. Eric Sogard singled to put runners on first and second, and Coco Crisp plated Norris with a single to make it 7-3.
Shields sat on the bench, after tossing a mere 88 pitches, shaking his head while watching his 3-2 lead evaporate.

Strike two for Ned.

Lester was cruising. From the end of the third inning on, Lester retired eleven Royals in a row. The Royals put only one ball in play over that span that left the infield.
Escobar, the aforementioned hot hitter who was asked to give away an out in the Royals third inning by bunting, got his second hit of the game by leading off the eighth on a tough fielding error by shortstop Lowrie. Escobar stole second, and came home on a one-out single by Cain to make it 7-4.
Cain stole second and Hosmer worked the count to 3-2 before fouling off a Lester offering, then taking ball four.
Lester’s night was done.
Luke Gregerson came in to face Billy Butler, representing the tying run. Butler shot a line drive single into right-center, scoring Cain to make it 7-5, moving Hosmer to third.
Terrance Gore replaced Butler and stole second on the first pitch.
Gregerson unleashed a wild pitch, scoring Hosmer to make it 7-6, and moving Gore to third.
Alex Gordon then drew one of the most nerve-wracking walks in the history of baseball.
Gordon stole second, but Salvador Perez failed to make contact, striking out with the tying run on third. Omar Infante then struck out to end the threat.
Greg Holland came on for the ninth and got two outs before Fuld walked, moved to second on a passed ball and Moss was intentionally walked. Holland walked Reddick to load the bases.
Nowhere to go. Nowhere to put anyone. Lowrie got a good stroke on a fastball, but lined out to Aoki in right.
Josh Willingham pinch hit for Moustakas and slapped a single to right to lead off the ninth. Jarrod Dyson came in to pinch run. Escobar, again, sacrificed the runner to second. Dyson then stole third and Aoki hit a long, deep fly to right that was chased down by Reddick, but Dyson scored to tie the game and send it to extra innings.
Yost brought in Brandon Finnegan to pitch the 10th. The rookie looked like a veteran, getting three right-handed batters out for a 1-2-3 inning.
Hosmer chopped one up the middle to lead off the bottom of the 10th and slid head first for a lead-off infield single. Christian Colon batted for Gore and sacrificed Hosmer to second. Gordon grounded out, moving Hosmer to third. Perez grounded out harmlessly to second to end the threat.
Finnegan answered the bell again, and caught Moss looking to end the top of the 11th.
Again, for the fourth inning in a row, the Royals put their lead-off man on base, as Infante poked a single to right. Dyson sacrificed the runner to second. Escobar grounded out to short, moving Infante to third. Anything…anything but a strikeout would do. Lance Nix struck out.
Reddick led off the top of the 12th with a walk and was sacrificed to second.
Jason Fraser replaced Finnegan and threw a wild pitch which moved Reddick to third. Then he hung a ball in Callaspo’s eyes, and he punched it into right for an RBI single, making it 8-7.
Norris struck out looking for the second out and Nick Punto popped out in foul ground.
Hosmer hit a one-out triple in the bottom of the 12th. Colon hit a high chopper to third. Donaldson tried to bare-hand it but missed and Hosmer – unbelievably – scored the tying run. Gordon popped to third for the second out.
Colon stole second. Again, the Royals had a runner in scoring position and finally, Salvador Perez came through. And the Royals move on with a 9-8 victory.

After 29 years, the Royals didn’t let Ned strike out.