Fighting back their natural inclination to fail at the exact moment when valor is called for, the Royals stormed to a dramatic 5-4 victory this afternoon at the K in front of 11,453 dedicated fans. Zack Greinke parlayed some decent luck with the flyball into one of his stronger outings of the season, allowing just 3 runs in 7.0 IP on 5 hits. In striking out 6 Indians, Greinke kept the ball out of play enough to give himself a chance, and for his efforts he was rewarded with a no-decision, but also, more importantly, a non-loss.
Not that we should really think its too important in reality, but the avoidance of loss #17 means we're one step closer to avoided next spring's inevitable, "Greinke needs to learn how to win" column. Ok, maybe not.
Amazingly, 4 of the 5 Royals' runs we're scored with two outs, which should remind us how fortunate (fluky) this victory really was. And yes, that was Royals Review nemesis Angel Berroa streaking home in the 9th to score the winning run. Good job Angel, given 500 opportunities for success, you've proven that you can be successful in 100 of them. Spoto job by Buddisimo in bringing in Super Joe for that critical 9th inning bunt. We'll need something to point to in the offseason as we justify McEwing's roster spot, as well as his inevitable second tour of duty with the Royals in '06.
For the Indians, the loss has to sting, but they have no one to blame but themselves. While they did tie the game in the 9th, getting the first two men on left them with a chance for a big inning that instead never materialized. Moreover, they lost a critical game without ever using their (in their own mind at least) "top reliver/closer" saving Wickman for a save opportunity that would never come. This is to say nothing of the fact that Phillips' "double" could have easily been a fly-ball out, had Grady Sizemore not lost the ball in the sun.
With one week remaining, the Royal victory coupled with the White Sox triump over Minny, means that this might just be the most significant Royals' win in 20 years. While the matter of their own fate has been settled, the Royals, by virtue of managing one measly victory out of four against Cleveland, may have dealt a serious blow to the Tribe's Al Central hopes.
Before the game, according to Baseball Prospectus' Invaluble Playoff Odds Report simulating the rest of the season one-million times, the Indians had a 48.29265 % chance of winning the Central, and a 48.21109 % chance of finishing second in the Central, but winning the Wild Card. Giving them an overall 96.50374% shot, as of Sunday morning, of making the post-season. We'll check in tomorrow morning and see how these numbers move. While every game counts, the stakes of these final games are more immediately clear; and the Royals had a big moment today, when it looked hopeless that they could deliver.
Update [2005-9-26 11:0:15 by royalsreview]:After yesterday's events, a simulation of the rest of the season a million times, yields a 28.86150% chance that the Indians win the Central a 59.95149% chance that the Tribe takes the Wild Card. Overall, 88.81300% of the time, Cleveland makes the post-season.
By winning yesterday, the Royals essentially chopped the odds of the Indians overtaking the White Sox in half, although the post-season odds still look good for Cleveland, thanks to the Wild Card.
This was our World Series.