Resilient Royals Take Care of Unfinished Business in World Series

Posted on December 7, 2015 by


The Kansas City Royals came close to winning the World Series in 2014, reaching game seven before losing by one run to the San Francisco Giants. Returning many key players to their 2015 roster, the Royals were determined to complete their run to a world championship. After wrapping up the American League Central division title, they would fight past the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays for the American League pennant. They couldn’t do without suspense, though, nearly being eliminated by Houston in the ALDS. Fighting back from six runs down, they won game four to stave off elimination and would later advance.

The Royals’ adversary in the World Series would be the National League Champion New York Mets. Appearing in the World Series for the first time since 2000, they were carried into the playoffs by the hot-hitting Yoenis Cespedes, acquired at the 31 July trade deadline. Once they reached October, however, it would be Daniel Murphy who would carry their offense, homering in six straight games and winning NLCS MVP.

Game one of the 111th World Series started with a bang. Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar whacked the first pitch of the bottom of the first inning into left centerfield and would speed around the bases for an inside-the-park home run, giving the Royals a very early 1-0 lead. With the game at 3-1, New York, in the seventh, Kansas City would tie the game on Eric Hosmer’s sacrifice fly and Mike Moustakas’s RBI single. However, an error by Hosmer in the eighth inning would allow the Mets to take back the lead going into the ninth inning. Jeurys Familia came on to save it for New York, but with two outs, Alex Gordon launched what would be the Royals’ only World Series homer, tying the game at 4. Four innings of scoreless baseball ensued before Hosmer redeemed himself with a walkoff sac fly to give the Royals the win in what was regarded as one of the best World Series Game one’s of all time.

Game two wouldn’t be as dramatic as its predecessor, but the win counted just the same. Kansas City took a 2-0 lead in the series behind a 2-hit complete game from Johnny Cueto and 4-run fifth inning, with RBI’s from Escobar, Hosmer (2), and Moustakas.

As the series moved to New York for Game three, it was the Mets’ franchise icon David Wright who got the party started with a 2-run homer in the first inning, his first career World Series home run. Another 2-run home run from Curtis Granderson gave New York a 5-3 lead, which would be enough for Noah Syndergaard. Syndergaard battled back from early struggles to retire 12 in a row before escaping a major jam in the sixth inning to preserve the lead, in what would end up as a 9-3 Mets win.

Early on in Game 4, it seemed as if two of New York’s rising stars would carry them to a 2-2 tie in the series. Rookie outfielder Michael Conforto hit two early home runs to give the Mets the lead, and fellow rookie Steven Matz pitched well into the sixth inning before encountering trouble. Lorenzo Cain knocked in Ben Zobrist to bring Kansas City within a run, but the Mets’ Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese combined to get them out of the inning with the lead. In the eighth, the pesky Royals mounted another comeback. Zobrist and Cain each drew walks off of Tyler Clippard to start the inning, before New York closer Familia came on to attempt to thwart the rally. His first batter, Eric Hosmer, hit a weak grounder to NLCS hero Murphy, but it skipped past him, allowing Zobrist to score and the floodgates to open. From there, Moustakas would single in Cain to give the Royals the lead, and Salvador Perez would add another to the lead that they would not surrender.

Kansas City righthander Edinson Volquez took the mound for Game five with a heavy heart, after learning of the death of his father after pitching Game one. He would keep the Royals in the game, pitching six strong innings and allowing only a lead-off home run to Granderson and another run in the sixth. However, his opponent, Mets’ ace Matt Harvey, was dominant, throwing eight shutout innings. With a 2-0 lead going to the ninth, he convinced manager Terry Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen to leave him in the game, which would prove to be a regretful decision. Harvey allowed a leadoff walk to Cain, who subsequently stole second. Hosmer then drove him in with a double, which would finally do it for Harvey. Jeurys Familia again came on in a pressure-filled moment. After Hosmer moved to third on a Moustakas ground-out, Salvador Perez came up with one out and the tying run on third. He chopped a weak grounder to third baseman David Wright, and it seemed Hosmer would have to hold at third. Upon Wright’s throw to first, Hosmer sprinted home, scoring on a wild throw by Lucas Duda to tie the game. The game would stay tied until the twelfth inning, when Perez led off with a single. Fleet-footed Jarrod Dyson pinch-ran for Perez and promptly stole second, which set the stage for Christian Colon. Colon, who had yet to play all postseason, was pinch hitting and stroked a two-out, two-strike single to score Dyson and again put the Royals on top. Three more runs would score in the inning, and Kansas City’s Wade Davis shut the door on New York, giving the Royals their first World Series in thirty years.

Throughout the regular season and the playoffs, Kansas City championed a balanced, contact-oriented, “small ball” approach to hitting that the whole team bought into. In an age where many players swing out of their shoes looking for home runs, the Royals used their “keep the line moving” approach and resilient attitude to come back from two-plus run deficits seven times in the postseason, a new record.

By Ben Schittler

Posted in: Freelance