In their first World Series appearance since 1985, the Kansas City Royals reached another Game 7. This one didn’t turn out as well as the previous one. Although, the game itself proved to be much better.
The Kansas City Royals put together an impressive performance in Game 6 of the 2014 World Series behind Yordano Ventura and a robust offense. The next night the Royals and Giants faced off in a winner-take-all Game 7, which took place exactly three years ago.
Tim Hudson and Jeremy Guthrie started the game for San Francisco and Kansas City, respectively. The two veteran right-handers lasted just five innings combined. Hudson got chased in the second inning, while Guthrie made it just 3 1/3 frames.
Both teams pushed across two runs in the second inning. The Giants loaded the bases with nobody out in the top half. Mike Morse and Brandon Crawford hit back-to-back sacrifice flies to take a 2-0 lead. The Kansas City Royals answered back in the bottom half.
Billy Butler singled, and Alex Gordon doubled him home. Salvador Perez reached on a hit-by-pitch. Mike Moustakas‘ flyout sent Gordon to third base before Omar Infante brought him in with a sac fly. Hudson left after giving up a single to Alcides Escobar, but Jeremy Affeldt forced a groundout to end the threat.
Affeldt, a former Royal, faced the minimum through the third and fourth innings. The Giants, meanwhile, squeezed out the go-ahead run in the top of the fourth. Consecutive singles and a flyout ended Guthrie’s night. Kelvin Herrera promptly allowed Morse to single home Pablo Sandoval, but he retired the next two batters to keep the score at 3-2.
To begin the fifth inning, San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner replaced Affeldt after pitching a complete-game shutout in Game 5. After throwing 117 pitches just three days prior, the left-handed Bumgarner took over with the Royals trailing by one and 15 outs to go.
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Infante singled to start the fifth inning. Escobar followed with a sacrifice bunt to move Infante into scoring position. Nori Aoki and Lorenzo Cain, though, couldn’t bring him home. Bumgarner then ran off three straight perfect innings to keep the Kansas City Royals at bay.
Eric Hosmer struck out to open the frame, and Billy Butler popped out in foul territory. When all hope seemed loss, up strolled Gordon. The left-handed hitter sliced a single to center field, but the ball got past Gregor Blanco and sent Gordon racing around the bases.
The wild play ranks among the top moments during the 2014 postseason. It also set the Kansas City Royals up to stun the Giants. Unfortunately, Bumgarner coaxed a foul popup off the bat of Perez as Gordon stood 90 feet away. Sandoval camped under it. As he fell, so too did the hearts of Royals fans.
The crushing defeat in Game 7 made for a long offseason. However, it clearly served as a motivating factor for the Kansas City Royals who returned in 2015. Of the nine players in the lineup that night, the team returned seven to start on Opening Day the next season. The only replacements were Alex Rios for Aoki and Kendrys Morales for Butler.
That chemistry and the mutual desire to finish what they started fueled the Kansas City Royals to their best season since 1985. So while the Game 7 loss at home proved painful to endure, it paved the way for what came next. That only made the end of the 2015 campaign even sweeter.
We’ll discuss that fantastic moment in a few days time.