The Kansas City Royals playoff run was over. They were down 6-2 to the Houston Astros in Minute Maid Park entering the top of the eighth inning. The Astros, who had attempted to replicate the Royals formula for success over the past few seasons, had turned the ball over to their solid bullpen. The Royals offense, which had their moments of being dormant, had mustered all of six baserunners and only two hits. If not for Salvador Perez launching a two run home run, the Royals would have seemed as lifeless as a C-Span rerun.
As it turned out, the Royals were simply waiting for their turn to strike. Just as that Royals devil magic has surfaced time and time again in the later innings, that special voodoo once again made an appearance in the top of the eighth. By the time that the dust had cleared, the Royals had forced the Astros into using three different relievers, watched likely Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa make an error, and ended the frame by scoring five runs on five singles, two ground outs, two walks and that critical two run mistake.
If this situation seemed somewhat familiar, that is because the Royals, with their backs to the walls, faced a similar situation in the 2014 Wild Card Game against the Oakland A’s. There, facing noted Royals killer Jon Lester, the Royals came back, winning that epic contest in twelve innings and spurring their incredible postseason run.
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These losses, where victory seems to be a virtual certainty, can truly be disastrous. How often do teams that, when given a second life, come back to not only take that game, but go on to win the series? Losing such a game in heartbreaking fashion, especially in such a short series, can truly be devastating. Likewise, for that winning ballclub, the confidence boost can be enough to carry over for the remainder of the series, and possibly beyond.
The Houston Astros are a team that relies heavily upon their young talent. Much like the Kansas City Royals last year, the Astros do not realize that they should not advance. They have a swagger and a confidence that is born from their success and belief in themselves. Now that they have been defeated in such a heartbreaking manner, will that confidence be broken?
The Royals are coming home to play Game Five at Kauffman Stadium. With the home crowd behind them, and the Astros stunning loss yesterday, the momentum of the series may have finally swung over to the Royals.