Remember back in 1985, when the Royals won the Worlds Series? That team received contributions from the unlikeliest of heroes, Dane Iorg and Buddy Biancalana. Sometimes, when making a magical run through October, it takes contributions from players that would otherwise be afterthoughts.
That is what is happening right now with the Royals. In their three playoff games, the Royals have gone 3-0, winning each game in the eleventh inning or later. Doing so, they have gotten contributions from more unlikely sources, players who, despite their limited roles or lack of success this season, have stepped up and delivered when the Royals needed it most.
With Brandon Finnegan, he likely should not have been expected to pitch this season. After all, just four months ago, he was pitching for the TCU Horned Frogs in the College World Series. Now, after rocketing through the system, Finnegan has become an integral part of the Royals bullpen for the playoff run. In his three games, he has allowed only one run in four innings, striking out three batters. His 2.1 innings of work against the Oakland A’s in the Wild Card game kept the Royals in position to earn the win, and he picked up his first postseason victory last night.
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Speaking of the Wild Card game, Christian Colon came through in the only postseason appearance he has had to date. He drew a walk and, in his only official at bat, hit a high chopper off the front of the plate to bring in the game tying run. Colon then stole second, and scored the game winning run when Salvador Perez sent his ground ball just beyond the diving Josh Donaldson.
Then there is Mike Moustakas. Once considered a potential franchise third baseman, he has been quite the disappointment for the Royals, even getting sent to AAA for ten days earlier in the season. While he was passable after returning from exile, posting a .235/.289/.377 batting line with eleven home runs, he still has not turned into the player that we all hoped for. However, in the wake of his game winning home run in Game One of the ALDS on Thursday night, his regular season performance no longer matters.
Given their offensive performance, the Royals were an unlikely playoff team. None of the experts predicted that they would get past the Oakland A’s, and it was generally expected that the Los Angeles Angels would sweep the Royals out of the postseason. Yet, here they stand, one game away from not only advancing to the ALDS, but on the verge of sweeping away the team with the best regular season record. This has been quite the exciting, and seemingly unlikely, run through the playoffs thus far.
To go on such an unlikely run, there needs to be several unlikely players cast as heroes. Fortunately for the Royals, a different player has stepped up each night. Now, all that is left to wonder about is – who gets to be the hero for Game Three tomorrow?