On April 17, 2015, Oakland A’s third baseman Brett Lawrie slid with his spikes high into Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar, who was covering second on a force play. Escobar ended up missing a couple of games after the incident, which continued an early-season trend of Royals players getting dinged by opposing teams.
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On opening day, Chicago White Sox free-agent acquisition Jeff Samardzija hit Lorenzo Cain after giving up a home run to Mike Moustakas. After a hot start to the season, Alex Rios broke his hand after Minnesota’s J.R. Graham hit him with an inside pitch on April 13. Through the first two weeks of the season, Kansas City Royals batters had been struck by pitchers more than any other team
By the time Lawrie slammed into Escobar, the KC Royals were fed up.
With the A’s leading 5-0 in the fourth inning against 24-year-old Yordano Ventura, the hot-headed Dominican plunked Lawrie as playback resulting in an ejection and another bench-clearing incident.
The play was significant because not only did the Kansas City Royals stand up and refuse to be intimidated after early opponents tried to “get tough” with the defending AL champs, the play ended up defining the team’s early-season identity. The ugly weekend with the A’s caused the KC Royals to transform from the beloved underdog that pulled a miracle playoff run in 2014 into the “bad boys” of baseball.
It might not have been pretty, but the Kansas City Royals refused to let themselves be pushed around. New to the ranks of contenders, much of the early-season angst came from the KC Royals players perception that fans, pundits, and their peers believed their 2014 World Series run was a fluke.
However, after opening the season with an MLB best seven straight wins, and a 15-7 April record, the Royals quickly refuted their skeptics.
Next: July 8, 2015