For twenty-nine years, the Royals were kept out of post-season play. Octobers were quiet around here. In 2014, that all changed as the Royals won the Wild Card game in thrilling fashion, sparking a run that has carried over into 2015. In that time, the Royals have won 19 of 27 post-season games, many in the most incredible and amazing comeback fashion.
Let's take a look and try to rank the top post-season games just from 2014-2015.
10. Ninth Inning Rally in Baltimore
Kansas City 6 Baltimore 4
The two teams were tied 4-4 after six innings in Baltimore. Kelvin Herrera escaped trouble in the seventh after he Orioles put two runners on. Omar Infante would lead off the ninth with a single off Orioles reliever Darren O'Day. Pinch runner Terrance Gore would be sacrificed to second before Alcides Escobar drove him home on a double off tough Baltimore closer Zack Britton. Lorenzo Cain would drive him home on a single to extend the lead and Greg Holland would finish off the Orioles for the win.
9. Hosmer's Extra Inning Cali Home Run
Kansas City 4 Los Angeles 1 (11 innings)
The Royals could not figure out Angels starter Matt Shoemaker all night, and aside from a second-inning unearned run, were left off the board. Yordano Ventura kept the Angels in check, and after nine frames the two teams were tied 1-1. In the eleventh, Jarrod Dyson singled with one out bringing up Eric Hosmer. Hosmer, who had hit just nine home runs all season in a frustrating year, blasted a Kevin Jepsen pitch over the wall in right to give the Royals the lead. The Royals would tack on another run to take a huge 2-0 series lead over the Angels.
8. Gordo's Blast in Baltimore
Kansas City 8 Baltimore 6 (10 innings)
James Shields failed to live up to his "Big Game James" moniker, giving up four runs in five innings of work, but the Royals offense hit Orioles starter Chris Tillman well, and the game was tied 5-5 after six innings. Jarrod Dyson was caught stealing when he overslid the bag in the seventh, which proved costly when Eric Hosmer would later single in the inning. The Royals loaded the bases with three straight walks and no outs in the ninth, but Hosmer would force out at home, and Billy Butler would hit into an inning-ending double play.
Alex Gordon would seize the night however, with a monstrous blast at Camden Yards to lead off the tenth. Mike Moustakas would later smash a two-run home run in the inning to give the Royals a three-run lead in extras. Closer Greg Holland would make things interesting in the ninth, but the Royals would get off to an important 1-0 series lead on the road.
7. Moose's Game Winning Blast in Anaheim
Kansas City 3 Los Angeles 2 (11 innings)
The excitement of the big win in the Wild Card game could have been followed up by a rather anti-climactic thud to the season against a 98-win Angels team. But the Royals went down to Anaheim and experienced no hangover. Jason Vargas allowed just two runs over six innings, matching Angels starter Jered Weaver. Wade Davis would get out of a jam in the ninth with a huge strikeout of Albert Pujols and the teams went into extra innings.
The Royals blew a chance with a runner in scoring position in the tenth, but in the eleventh, Mike Moustakas decided that anyone standing at the plate was in scoring position. He deposited a Fernando Salas home run over the wall in right for what would be a game-winning home run as Greg Holland slammed the door shut in the bottom of the inning to give the Royals a 1-0 series lead.
6. Ninety Feet Short
World Series Game 7, October 29, 2014
San Francisco 3 Kansas City 2
This is the only Royals loss on here, but it is worth mentioning as one of the most epic endings to a World Series game ever. Both managers went to their bullpen early, although Ned Yost may have been a bit too slow yanking starter Jeremy Guthrie. Guthrie exited in the fourth with the Royals down 3-2. Giants relieve Jeremy Affeldt gave his team some huge relief innings as post-season ace Madison Bumgarner loomed in the bullpen. Bumgarner entered the game in the fourth inning and gave the Giants four huge shutout innings heading into the ninth.
Bumgarner retired the first two hitters, putting the Royals final hopes on Midwestern kid Alex Gordon. Gordon shortened his stroke and poked a line drive into left-center field, a routine single. But the Kauffman Stadium crowd went bonkers when centerfielder Gregor Blanco misplayed the ball, allowing it to roll all the way to the wall. Left-fielder Juan Perez, backing up the play, bobbled the ball, allowing Gordon to get all the way to third, although some felt he might have made a run for home as well.
As it was, Gordon held up. Salvador Perez would pop up to end the game and the season, and the Royals fell just ninety feet short of tying the game.
5. Cain's Run
Kansas City 4 Toronto 3
Kauffman Stadium was rocking in anticipation of the Royals winning back-to-back pennants for the first time in franchise history. The Royals seemed well on their way to the World Series after jumping out to a 3-1 lead thanks to a terrific pitching performance by Yordano Ventura. But Ned Yost went with reliever Ryan Madson in the eighth, despite major post-season struggles, to pitch to the heart of Toronto's dangerous lineup. The result was predictable, a two-run monster blast by Jose Bautista, his second home run of the game, to tie it up at 3-3.
Lorenzo Cain would lead off the eighth with a walk off 20-year old Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna. With Cain standing at first, Eric Hosmer would line a single down the right field line, causing Cain to become a blur around the bases. In one of the most impressive baserunning displays in recent memory, Cain would score from first on a single by Cain, thanks in part to Jose Bautista throwing to second base instead of home. The Royals would take a 4-3 lead, but the Jays would mount a rally in the ninth, putting two runners in scoring position with no outs. Closer Wade Davis would strike out the next two hitters, then induce a ground out to cap off the victory and put the Royals in the Fall Classic.
4. Jose Bautista's Gaffe
Kansas City 6 Toronto 3
Jose Bautista is an amazing hitter, but his deficiencies as a fielder were on display in the 2015 ALCS against Kansas City. Blue Jays ace David Price had mowed down Royals hitters all afternoon, and the Blue Jays lead 3-0 heading into the seventh. Ben Zobrist led off the inning with a harmless pop up in shallow right field. Out drifted second baseman Ryan Goins, in drifted outfielder Jose Bautista. Goins claims he heard someone call for the ball, but Bautista claims it wasn't him. The ball fell harmlessly between the two for a base hit. That was the spark the Royals needed.
The floodgates opened with two of the next three hitters getting singles to score three runs and tie the game. Alex Gordon would double in the gap off Price to give the Royals the lead. They would tack on a few more runs, but many would point to the Goins/Bautista dropped ball as the catalyst for the Royals rally.
3. The Game that Would Never End
World Series Game 1, October 27, 2015
Kansas City 5 New York 4 (14 innings)
Last night, man. It was a game that had it all. You had the drama of Edinson Volquez on the mound hours after his father had passed away. Alcides Escobar led off the bottom of the first with an amazing inside-the-park home run. The FOX feed cut out. Curtis Granderson had a home run and an amazing catch to save the game. The Royals, known for their defense, had miscues that nearly cost them including an error by Eric Hosmer to give the Mets a late lead.
Then Alex Gordon rescued the Royals from the dead with a solo home run to tie the game 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth. With the game in extras, it was a battle of attrition with Chris Young coming up huge for the Royals (and Jon Niese coming up huge for the Mets). Eventually the Royals would outlast the Mets, winning in the fourteenth inning on a sacrifice fly from Eric Hosmer, who went from goat to hero in just a few hours.
2. The Comeback Against the Astros
Kansas City 9 Houston 6
October 12, 2015
Be honest, you had given up. You had mentally packed it in and were thinking of free agents to replace Alex Rios in right field next year. The Royals trailed the Houston Astros 6-2 in the eighth inning of Game Four of the 2015 American League Division Series. The Astros were young upstarts and had bashed the ball all over the yard in impressive fashion. The Royals bats in contrast, had looked off-balance and impotent.
Sure, the Astros bullpen had some problems in September, but overall they were a talented bunch. When the Royals began the eighth inning with three consecutive singles, however, you could feel the pressure mounting on the pen that had already blown a lead in Game Two of the series. Two more singles made it a 6-4 game, but it was a costly error by Astros shortstop Carlos Correa that would tie the game. An Alex Gordon force out would put the Royals on top, and Eric Hosmer would later put the game out of reach with a two-run blast in the ninth.
1. The 2014 Wild Card Game
American League Wild Card Game, September 30, 2014
Kansas City 9 Oakland 8 (12 innings)
This has to be tops, because it was the game that made it all possible. The Royals faced enormous odds, trailing 7-3 in the eighth inning. Brandon Moss had dampened spirits with a two-home run game, and Jon Lester had shut down the Royals all season. But the Royals were able to chip away with a three-run eighth. In the ninth, pinch-hitter Josh Willingham singled, and pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson was sacrificed to second. After a huge steal of third by Dyson, Nori Aoki drove him home with a sacrifice fly to tie the game.
The A's took the lead in the twelfth, but the Royals refused to die. Eric Hosmer tripled off the top of the left-field wall and scored on a Christian Colon infield chopper. Colon would steal second and come around to score on Salvador Perez's shot down the left-field line to win the game. It was a comeback for the ages.
That doesn't even include possibly one of the greatest endings to a Game Seven in World Series history that put the Royals on the short end of the stick. Nor does it include the amazing rivalry games against the Yankees in the League Championship Games in the 1970s, or Willie Aikens' two-home run game in the 1980 World Series, or the incredible comeback against the Blue Jays in 1985, or of course the infamous Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. For being an expansion team that has been around less than five decades and missed the playoffs for a long stretch, the Royals have developed quite an incredible post-season history. It has been an embarrassment of riches for Royals fans and a warning to opponents - this team will not.....give.....up.
How would you rank the post-season games from the last two years?