9. July 8, 2015: Alex Gordon tears his groin muscle
By early July, the Kansas City Royals had opened up a 4.5 game lead on Minnesota, and a seven game lead over four-time defending AL Central champion Detroit. Though they had suffered injuries to three starting pitchers in May, the first real challenge to their post-season march came when Tampa’s Logan Forsythe opened the fourth inning with a deep drive to left.
With the Royals holding a 2-1 lead, most fans expected Gordon to make one of his signature run-into-the-wall catches to deny Forsythe a hit. Instead, the ball fell for a double as Gordon crumpled to the turf after slamming into the wall. Forsythe jogged home from second as Alex Gordon stayed down.
Alex Gordon needed a cart to leave the field. Word soon came that he had torn his groin muscle.
Though the KC Royals won the game 9-7 over Tampa Bay, Gordon’s injury cast a pall over the team’s post-season ambitions. News quickly came that Gordon would miss at least a month, creating an opening for Detroit and Minnesota to make a run at the division-leading Kansas City Royals.
Instead, the KC Royals rallied to win eight of their next 11 games. By the end of July, the Kansas City Royals had extended their AL Central lead to eight games over the Twins and 11.5 over the Tigers.
However the loss of Gordon likely played a role in general manager Dayton Moore deciding to trade five prospects to land: 1) a replacement for Alex Gordon in Ben Zobrist, who would play in Gordon’s LF spot until moving to second base on Gordon’s return in September, and 2) landing Cincinnati ace Johnny Cueto.
Would Moore have been as aggressive at the trade deadline without Alex Gordon’s injury? We’ll never know, but the immediate need couldn’t have hurt. Both Cueto and Zobrist ended up playing big roles in KC’s successful championship run.
Next: July 12, 2015