The Rally Begins
The score remained the same until Kansas City came to the plate in the bottom of the eighth. It was then that the Royals pulled off a rally that changed the trajectory of the franchise. Something clicked inside of the minds of the young KC core. They realized that there was no tomorrow.
"“There’s no way we lose this game.” “Not tonight” “We are not losing this game.”"
So many times players say things like that and it means nothing. It’s just one final objection before acceptance of a painful outcome. The KC Royals had managed only one hit since their third inning rally. ESPN estimated their chances to win the game at a mere 3% at the end of the seventh inning,
By any rational measure, Kansas CIty just wasn’t going to rally. No team in baseball history had ever overcome a four-run deficit in the eighth inning or later to win an elimination game.
Then shortstop Alcides Escobar chopped a single up the middle to open the eighth inning. Kauffman Stadium responded with a smattering of applause. It was nice. But, no one really believed it mattered. At least the Royals were still fighting.
An Unusual Move
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Escobar then did something rather unusual: down four runs he stole second base. Conventional baseball wisdom in that situation holds that you don’t risk giving up an out on the base paths when you need a big inning. But, Kansas City was 14th in runs scored in the 15-team AL in 2014. They needed to manufacture runs. Plus, Oakland’s best defensive catcher Giovanni Soto had left the game with an injury early on. His replacement Derek Norris couldn’t contain the speedy KC base-runners.
So, the Royals decided to take full advantage of their strength. If they were going to go down, they’d do it playing Kansas City Royals baseball.
The 2014 KC Royals ranked dead last in major league baseball in home runs. Sitting around and waiting for the big blow wasn’t a good idea. If the Kansas City Royals were going to come back, they would have to manufacture runs any way they could.
Nori Aoki moved Escobar to third by dribbling a slow grounder to short. Then a deep rumble of “Let’s Go Royals!” washed across Kauffman Stadium. Just a little belief began to simmer deep in our bellies, because a run with a man on third and one out seemed rather likely.