In one of the most exciting postseason games thus far, the Atlanta Braves defeated the San Francisco Giants 5-4 in extra innings Friday night. What got that victory to occur is a series of events inextricably linked to the Kansas City Royals. Here they are.
Successful Royals reliever Ramon Ramirez traded to the Red Sox in November of 2008. He pitched little more than one season for the Red Sox before being traded again to the contending San Francisco Giants. Former Royals teammate Jose Guillen would join him in August of 2010.
Guillen surely must have been involved in the events to follow. Jose Guillen was left off the Giants postseason roster.
In the bottom of the tenth inning, Braves closer Billy Wagner injured his oblique fielding two bunts, resulting in a runner at second, with one out. With the Braves seemingly out of players, journeyman Kyle Farnsworth was called upon to keep the game tied. I repeat: Kyle Farnsworth was called in to save the Braves season in a playoff game. THAT Kyle Farnsorth, who, over his career, has seemed to be Mr. Anti-Clutch. He was traded to the Braves, along with Rick Ankiel, for Gregor Blanco, Jesse Chavez, and a promising short guy pitching prospect Tim Collins (sure to make 2010 roster yet?). Farnsworth promptly reminded us all who he is. He hit the first batter, walked the second. The bases were loaded, and there was still only one out. One run would win it, whether on a sac fly, anything but a double play or strikeout really. 2010 Rookie of the Year candidate Buster Posey was at the plate. Farnsworth throws very hard and is a strikeout and flyball pitcher for the most part, allowing a staggering amount of homers over his career. Furthermore, he had only forced 34 double plays over his long career prior to this moment. He induced the double play from golden boy Posey, temporarily saving the Braves season and preventing a 2-0 Giants lead in the series.
In the top of the 11th, former Royal Ramon Ramirez came in to pitch. He faced Rick Ankiel, traded along with Farnsworth. Ankiel has limited talents as a hitter. He is not patient, does not make consistent contact, and lacks various other skills. But he does hit for power, and he has been known for clutch situations in the past in St. Louis and a little in Kansas City. Ramon Ramirez, a good groundball pitcher who had just a 0.67 ERA in limited innings in San Francisco this season, served one up. Ankiel hit a homerun for the ages, now probably the most famous homerun hit in AT&T Park not hit by Barry Bonds (coincidentally though, both have PED histories). He absolutely crushed it, 450 feet estimated. Splash. Farnsworth protected the lead in the bottom of the inning. Braves win. Somewhere, Dayton Moore is accepting thank yous from his former employer.
This was the perfect storm of former Royals in the postseason, combining for a thrilling win for a seemingly defeated team.