KC Royals Wild Card Win Transformed Franchise Two Years Ago
By John Viril
Winning The Game
Eric Hosmer proved me right. With one out in the bottom of the 12th, he slammed a high drive off the left-center wall. Oakland left fielder Jonny Gomes collided with center fielder Sam Fuld as they both strained to catch the ball and failed. The ball, instead, rolled back toward the outfield grass as Gomes ran after it.
Eric Hosmer cruised into third base standing up before Gomes could return the ball to the infield.
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That’s when I knew. The Royals were going to win this game.
Christian Colon chopped a high bouncer to third that ended up becoming an infield single. Hosmer belly flopped into home plate with the tying run as Josh Donaldson failed to make a barehand grab.
Alex Gordon popped out to Donaldson in foul territory behind third. Then Oakland brought in righty Jason Hammel to pitch to Salvador Perez. Colon swiped second for the KC Royals sixth stolen base after the seventh inning. He took the base despite the A’s calling for a pitch out. Unfortunately for Oakland, the ball popped out of catcher Derek Norris’s glove.
Kansas City’s seven stolen bases in the game set a playoff record.
Perez slammed a hard ground that tailed away from the diving Josh Donaldson at third base to easily score the winning run. The KC Royals had done it! They had won their first playoff game in 29 years by staging a historic comeback.
Kauffman Stadium exploded with joy. The Oakland A’s stared at the field in disbelief as the Kansas City Royals piled into a happy scrum in the outfield grass behind second base. Hall-Of-Famer, and team vice president, George Brett held the back of his head with both hands and stared in wonder as he watched in a sport coat from above.
This One Miracle Transformed A Franchise
At the point, I thought that miracle victory was enough. Just that one win had made the season a roaring success no matter what happened with the Angels in the ALDS.
I, however, underestimated what this game had done to the Kansas City Royals. In four hours and 45 minutes, a young team transformed from a playoff neophyte into a supremely confident post-season monster.
The Royals swept both the Angels (who had the best regular season record in baseball with 98 wins) and Orioles to win the AL pennant. Though the KC Royals lost the 2014 World Series to the San Francisco Giants, they pushed the champions to the brink by putting the tying run on third base at the end of Game 7.
In 2015, the Kansas City Royals won the World Series while staging a major-league record eight post-season comeback wins. That run included three late-inning rallies against New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia.
They had become the never say die Royals.
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All of that success, however, was rooted that crazy wild card game at the end of September 2014.