On This Day: KC Royals Bret Saberhagen reaches 20 wins in complete-game performance

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In KC Royals history, there have been many memorable moments, but none quite as pivotal as a late-season showdown on Sept. 30, 1985. While hindsight often makes it seem as if championships were destined, the Royals' path to their 1985 World Series victory was far from certain, especially as the regular season reached its climax.

The KC Royals 1985 championship may never have happened without a win on Sept. 30, 1985.

Fresh off a demoralizing sweep at the hands of the Minnesota Twins, Dick Howser's Royals faced a daunting challenge. The Royals were trailing the California Angels by a single game with just one week left in the regular season. Their championship aspirations hung in the balance as they prepared to face off against the Angels in a four-game series at Royals Stadium.

The game on that fateful night would prove to be a microcosm of the determination and resilience that characterized the Royals' 1985 season. The Angels took an early lead in the second inning, courtesy of Doug DeCinces' home run. However, the Royals, led by their iconic third baseman George Brett, were not to be outdone. Brett responded with a home run of his own in the fourth inning, marking the beginning of his incredible three-home-run series and five home runs that final week.

The turning point came in the seventh inning when Jim Sundberg blasted a home run, propelling the Royals into the lead. With their postseason hopes hanging in the balance, the Royals needed more than just a slim lead. In the eighth inning, Willie Wilson kickstarted the offense with a lead-off triple, followed by a clutch sacrifice fly from George Brett. This two-run cushion was all that Bret Saberhagen needed.

In a dramatic fashion, Saberhagen secured win number 20 on the season, the final out coming with a called third strike on none other than the legendary Reggie Jackson. The Royals had not only won a crucial game but had also regained their momentum, thanks to Saberhagen's masterful complete-game performance.

But this game was about more than just one victory. It marked the beginning of a crucial series of must-win games that paved the way for the Kansas City Royals' triumphant 1985 World Championship. Looking back, this showdown with the Angels serves as a compelling prelude to the postseason. The Royals proceeded to secure victory in three of the four games against California, solidifying their position atop the division standings. Without this critical series win, the drama of the American League Championship Series and the iconic I-70 World Series may have never unfolded.