Kansas City Royals: 5-year anniversary of The Wild Card Game

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 30: Salvador Perez
KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 30: Salvador Perez /
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Kansas City Royals, Yordano Ventura
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Yordano Ventura was brought into the game despite throwing 73 pitches two days earlier.

The fifth was another six batters up, six batters back to the dugout. After five frames, Shields had given up four hits, two earned runs, struck out six and only walked one. Lester was not too far behind him with five hits surrendered, three earned runs, five K’s and one base on balls.

Had the game turned out differently, this could have been the end of Yost’s tenure in Royal blue. After Shields gave up a single and walk in the sixth, Yost made a pitching change to Yordano Ventura, who would finish sixth in the Rookie of the Year voting that season. However, he had just pitched two days earlier against the Chicago White Sox tossing 73 pitches. If you followed the blogs at this time, many people were using the term, “Yost-ed” which referred to decisions in the course of the game that many pundits disagreed with and had a high percentage of backfiring.

Ventura had a took the league by storm going 14-10 with 3.20 ERA and striking out 159 in 183 innings pitched. Probably a combination of a tired arm and being jacked for a playoff appearance in a high-stress situation led to disaster for Kansas City. Moss greeted “Ace” with a three-run blast for his second bomb of the game and KC is now down 5-3. Ventura only lasted three batters as he gave up a walk, threw a wild pitch and managed to induce Jed Lowrie into a flyout.  It appeared fans had indeed been Yost-ed again.

Kelvin Herrera entered the game and the crowd anticipated he would stop the bleeding as he had posted a 1.41 ERA in ’14 and been part of the vaunted HDH reliever combination which also included Greg Holland and Wade Davis. Unfortunately sandwiched in-between the second and third outs were three singles that led to two more runs. We head to the bottom of sixth with Oakland now claiming a four-run lead and the air sucked out of the stadium.

Lester mowed down the Royals in that frame.  For the seventh inning, Herrera turned into his old self striking out two but once again Lester held the Royals scoreless in the bottom half of the inning.

Davis was called upon and put the A’s out in order in the 8th as Kansas City comes up with only six outs between them and the abrupt halt to their year looming. Lester had thrown several pitches but had also kept KC off the board for four straight frames.

Alcides Escobar led off by shooting a single up the middle and promptly stealing second base. Aoki grounded out moving Escobar to third with one out. Lorenzo Cain played follow the leader by singling up the middle and, you guessed it, swiping second. Eric Hosmer draws a walk and Oakland finally makes a change on the mound to Luke Gregerson. Gregerson had just joined the A’s in 2014 and had an outstanding season appearing in 72 games, posting a 1.01 WHIP and an ERA+ of 176.

The heart of the Royals started pounded louder with this challenge though, and Billy Butler smoked a line drive to right field scoring Cain and chasing Hosmer to third. Terrance Gore pinch runs for Butler and proceeds to steal second, the third time this inning the Royals would do that. A wild pitch scores Hosmer and moves Gore up another base but unfortunately, he is stranded there.

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Sadly, Kansas City comes up one short of tying the game as Greg Holland trots to the field. An extremely lights out reliever the past three seasons, Holland would make the All-Star game in ’14, finishing ninth in the Cy Young voting and sixteenth in the MVP race. A 0.914 WHIP was somehow higher than the 2013 season but not too shabby and 90 strikeouts in 62.1 innings makes him nearly invincible. Except in this game he gives Royals fans a heart attack by walking the bases loaded before retiring Lowrie on a line out to right field.