You might remember this game – Royals at home against Baltimore. The Royals took a 3-0 lead in the 1st to back Sean O’Sullivan, who eventually let the Orioles pull even in the 6th. Mitch Maier then doubled home Yuni to take a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the 6th, before Kyle Farnsworth gave up 2 runs in the 8th to allow the Orioles to take a 5-4 lead, which they carried into the bottom of the 9th.
Billy Butler led off the 9th with a groundout, followed by a Jose Guillen groundout. With 2 outs, the Orioles were now 95% likely to win the game. What followed was a Rick Ankiel walk, then a single by Wilson Betemit to move Ankiel to 3rd. Alex Gordon stepped to the plate with his average under .200, and without a homerun in over 3 months. You might remember what happened next.
Alex Gordon hits a walkoff homer.
Nice moment in an otherwise mostly dreadful season, right?
Fast forward to June 6, 2011. The Orioles finished 1 game “ahead” of the Royals in the draft, and with the 4th overall pick took Dylan Bundy. The Royals followed by (begrudgingly?) taking the home-town kid in Bubba Starling with the 5th pick, with the 4 presumed top-shelf pitching prospects all off the board.
It has been widely reported since then that the Royals coveted Dylan Bundy, and Nate Bukaty has reported the Royals even had a pre-draft deal worked out with Bundy, should he be available. With the organization’s strong need and desire for starting pitching, I think it’s fair to assume the Royals would have taken Bundy with the 4th overall pick.
Maybe Bundy will flameout, and Starling will end up a hall-of-famer. However, how many would rather have Starling over Bundy as we sit here today? I would take Bundy in a heartbeat. How much better would the Royals pipeline of starting pitching look if you add Bundy to the mix?
If Bundy turns into an ace and the Royals continue to lack starting pitching, it will be hard for me to forget one fateful Gordon homer in the midst of yet another lost season.